The fundamental question addressed by this research is how larger organisations embark upon electronic commerce (E-commerce) projects in order to identify best practice which increase the likelihood of success. For the purpose of this thesis, electronic commerce is defined as any interaction between an organisation and its trading community undertaken in an electronic manner. In addition, the research also considers the opportunities for achieving competitive advantage through the use of electronic commerce; and being such a relatively new discipline it explores the origins/scope of electronic commerce and the reasons for its popularity. Despite evidence to confirm that larger organisations have a critical dependency upon IT applications, the research concludes that few organisations have internal planning processes in place that examine the strategic nature of IT projects under development. The main research outcome has been the identified trend by larger organisations to consolidate and reduce the variety of IT technologies in use, giving rise to the concept of a 'thick architecture'. The researcher has developed a 'six layer model' to illustrate the thick architecture concept and to explain the interplay between business and IT strategies. In this context, open Internet technologies are emerging as the preferred choice on which to base such a thick architecture. The research concludes that Internet commerce (an evolution of electronic commerce) is offering exciting new IT application opportunities for organisations to achieve competitive advantage. Finally, recommendations are made on best practices to be adopted when embarking upon electronic commerce programmes
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