Agent of e-change

By David Raths, InfoWorld |  Career

"They're being asked to integrate CRM [customer relationship management] and ERP
[enterprise resource planning] at the same time. It's transaction-oriented and they
can't be dropping transactions all over the place. So the traditional kinds of project
management approaches are not appropriate for these kinds of projects," Highsmith
says.

E-commerce has also drastically changed project time lines. Ask David Holden,
manager of e-commerce applications and services at Eastman Chemical, in Kingsport,
Tenn.

"What we've noticed the most in the IT department is the speed of the environment,"
says Holden. "We are looking at very rapid development cycles. We'll be doing a lot
less of the three-year-long projects. The technology could change on you in that
time."

Forget years. Think weeks; in fact, think six weeks. That's how long it took from
start to finish for Holden to set up Eastman's own online auction site.

Implementation wasn't the only problem. Some people on the business side were wary
of the auction concept, and it took a little bit of training, but it was fairly well
rreceived," Holden says. The auctions, for items such as rail cars of polyethylene, are
conducted on Eastman's private auction site using Moai's LiveExchange software.

Eastman executives expect online revenue to account for 30 percent of the company's
sales by the year 2003. "One of the goals of the venture arm," Holden explains, "is
[to] be involved in helping shape how the technology develops." The company has even
invested in several of the vendors whose software it uses, including webMethods and
Moai.

Similar business, new technology

For some companies the shift to business-to-consumer e-commerce isn't a great leap,
yet the repercussions for IT are serious.

Lands' End, a direct marketer of clothing based in Dodgeville, Wisc., already had a
huge print catalog sales operation, and was known for great customer relationship-
building. As Lands' End first dipped its toes online, the IT department wasn't even
involved, recalls John Loranger, vice president of information services.

During 1993 and 1994 the company was experimenting with the Internet, interactive
TV, and with putting catalogs on CD. The marketing department -- not information
technology -- ran these initiatives.

The cataloger's first Web site went up in early 1995 as an experiment. At the time
IT didn't have the staff to dedicate to this online venture: The project was outsourced
to a company that had been working with the cataloger on other networking projects.

The site was launched: The online orders started rolling in. Lands' End wasn't
prepared.

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