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Web Monkeys or Web Designers? – Technical skills for e-commerce

10,000 3,000

Topic Description

Summary
This project investigates the skills and technologies used for e-commerce within a single large IT
organisation. We took two teams within a single division of IBM that were heavily involved in ecommerce
work and attempted to distinguish between the roles of the computer scientist and the nonspecialist
with regard to Web development.
Our investigation led us to analyse three key areas: role identification, evolution of e-commerce skills
& technologies and work organisation & job design. Findings suggest that while separate roles do
exist, a significant degree of technical skills remain within the non-specialist group. This led us to
define a potential third role whose skills cross the boundaries of both groups.
We propose that while the specialist is technically capable of performing the non-specialist’s role, it is
arguable that the outputs produced would not have the same level of usability due to the specialist’s
focus on functionality. We also propose the extinction of the non-specialist role as technology
progresses increasing the automation and integration of their role.

Contents Page(s)
Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. I
Acknowledgements …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..II
Contents Page(s)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. III
1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1
2. Background Research……………………………………………………………………………………………………3
2.1 The History of the Internet………………………………………………………………………………………….3
2.1.1 Origins of the Internet…………………………………………………………………………………….3
2.1.2 Evolution of the Internet…………………………………………………………………………………4
2.1.3 Before the Web……………………………………………………………………………………………..5
2.1.4 Development Timeline …………………………………………………………………………………..7
2.2 The World Wide Web and E-commerce……………………………………………………………………….8
2.2.1 Web Protocols & Software Development………………………………………………………….8
2.2.2 Defining E-commerce…………………………………………………………………………………..10
2.2.3 Growth of E-commerce ………………………………………………………………………………..11
2.2.4 Future of E-commerce………………………………………………………………………………….12
2.3 Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….12
3. Methodology……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….14
3.1 Research Design ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..14
3.2 Data Collection ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
3.2.1 Interviews …………………………………………………………………………………………………..16
3.2.2 Documentation ……………………………………………………………………………………………17
3.2.3 Observation…………………………………………………………………………………………………17
3.3 Data Analysis………………………………………………………………………………………………………….17
3.4 Project Management ………………………………………………………………………………………………..18
3.4.1 Case Study Justification………………………………………………………………………………..18
3.4.2 Project Schedule ………………………………………………………………………………………….20
4. Role Identification ………………………………………………………………………………………………………21
4.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….21
4.2 Web Master – “Master of the Web” …………………………………………………………………………..21
4.3 The Non-Specialist ………………………………………………………………………………………………….22
4.4 The Specialist………………………………………………………………………………………………………….25
4.5 The Semi-Specialist …………………………………………………………………………………………………26
4.6 Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….28
5. Evolution of E-Commerce Skills & Technologies ………………………………………………………….29
5.1 Stages of Technical Development ……………………………………………………………………………..29
5.2 Development Timeline (continued) ……………………………………………………………………………31
5.3 Technical Background ……………………………………………………………………………………………..32
5.4 Technical Skill Development…………………………………………………………………………………….33
5.5 Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….35
IV
6. Work Organisation & Job Design………………………………………………………………………………..37
6.1 Scientific Management …………………………………………………………………………………………….37
6.1.1 Principles ……………………………………………………………………………………………………37
6.1.2 Significance & Impact ………………………………………………………………………………….39
6.2 Job Enlargement ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..40
6.3 Job Enrichment ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….41
6.4 Autonomous Workgroups…………………………………………………………………………………………42
6.5 Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….43
7. Evaluation…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..45
7.1 Evaluation Criteria & Justification …………………………………………………………………………….45
7.2 Suitability of Research Design ………………………………………………………………………………….45
7.3 Reliability of Data Collected …………………………………………………………………………………….46
7.4 Fulfilment of Objectives …………………………………………………………………………………………..48
8. Project Conclusions …………………………………………………………………………………………………….50
8.1 Conclusions…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….50
8.2 Recommendations for Further Development……………………………………………………………….51
Project References …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..53
Appendix A – Reflections …………………………………………………………………………………………………56
A1 Reflections on the Experience …………………………………………………………………………………..56
A2 Lessons Learnt ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..56
A3 Recommendations……………………………………………………………………………………………………56
Appendix B – Project Schedule …………………………………………………………………………………………58
B1 Activity Table………………………………………………………………………………………………………….58
B2 Gantt Chart (November 2002) …………………………………………………………………………………..59
B3 Schedule Revisions ………………………………………………………………………………………………….60
B4 Revised Activity Table……………………………………………………………………………………………..61
B5 Gantt Chart (February 2003)……………………………………………………………………………………..62
B6 Gantt Chart (April 2003)…………………………………………………………………………………………..63
Appendix C – Interview Structures …………………………………………………………………………………..64
C1 e-devs Interview Structure ………………………………………………………………………………………..64
C2 ibm.com Interview Structure……………………………………………………………………………………..65
Appendix D – Sample Interview………………………………………………………………………………………..66
Appendix E – Outline of Documentation……………………………………………………………………………73
E1 Understanding PCD EMEA Websites…………………………………………………………………………73
E2 PCD EMEA Dreamweaver Guide………………………………………………………………………………73
E3 Roles & Responsibilities …………………………………………………………………………………………..73
E4 CI162 Explained………………………………………………………………………………………………………73
E5 History.exe ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..73
Appendix F – Sample Documentation ……………………………

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