E-business is often used as the umbrella term for all the electronically controlled business processes of a company. These processes are characterized by the fact that they are mostly automated and the Internet and other digital information technologies are used for this purpose. As an academic subject, the term e-business also includes product development and production, as well as financing, and marketing. E-commerce and e-procurement are two components of e-business.


The term “e-business” was coined by the IT corporation IBM in the late 1990s and generally referred to computer-assisted processes for automating trade processes at the time. Today, the scope of the term “e-business” depends on how far the concept of “business” is taken.

E-business can also refer to a company itself. In that case an online store per se would be an e-business.

If “business” is generally defined as “trade,” the principle applies to all partners involved in electronic trading.

“Business” as “cooperation” in e-business then encompasses all methods of collaboration with the help of electronic and automated processes. Thus e-learning in the widest sense could be classified under e-business as well.

The Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon (German encyclopedia) contains a workable definition based on the five pillars of e-business:

  • “Electronic business (e-business) refers to the economic opportunities associated with global digital networks (net economy), which means the use of digital information technologies to support business processes during the preparatory, negotiation and implementation phases. The necessary components which are information, communication, and transaction are transferred or processed via the digital networks between the participating economic partners.”

The following five areas are listed as the basis for e-business:

  • E-procurement: this includes all activities relating to purchasing. These can be either goods or services. E-procurement therefore includes products purchased from an online store, as well as the booking of advertisements through Google AdWords.
  • E-shop, online store or e-commerce: This includes shop systems such as Magento or also Oxid as well as linked ERP systems

E-marketplace: This may be more specified as price comparison portals such as Google Shopping or generally define the web as a sales area.

  • E-community: This community refers today to social networks such as Facebook or describes contact with customers and prospective customers with electronic and digital media such as email or chat.
  • E-Company: The communication of companies is also done through digital networks such as the presentation of the company itself.


The objectives of e-business are largely automated processes in the trade. All areas are affected by this motto. For example, the planning of an e-business concept can include automatic dispatch notification via an ERP system, a dedicated call center, regular emailing, and machine-controlled purchase of goods. Big Data or business intelligence software are utilized in modern e-business to optimize sales and purchasing processes.