Differences Between Electronic and
Other Forms of Commerce
These methods of doing business differ from traditional commerce in the extent to which electronic commerce combines information technology, telecommunications technology, and business process to make it practical to do business in ways that could not otherwise be done. To illustrate, lets draw on some examples. In each of these cases technology and business process must work together if EC is to be successful.
Electronic forms is a technology that combines the familiarity of paper forms with the
power of storing information in digital form. Imagine an ordinary paper form, a piece of
paper with lines, boxes, check-off lists, and places for signatures. To the user an
electronic form is simply a digital analogue of such a paper form, an image which looks
like a form but which appears on a computer screen and is filled out via mouse and
keyboard. Behind the screen, however, lie numerous functions that paper and pencil cannot
provide. Those extra functions come about because the data from electronic forms are
captured in digital form, thus allowing storage in data bases, automatic information
routing, and integration into other applications. As an example, a supplies form may
filled out by the requester and automatically sent to a supervisor for approval. Once
approved, the actual order may be input into an EDI translator, and go to the vendor by
means of a structured X12 EDI transaction.