Although the number of new sites being added to the Web has slowed recently, existing ones are constantly struggling with e-commerce issues. The need for administrators who understand electronic business and have had their skills authenticated by CompTIA or another vendor-neutral party has never been greater.

The e-Biz+ certification exam from CompTIA is a vendor-neutral test on the basics of electronic business. It focuses on concepts and theories as opposed to actual product implementation. It is a one-test certification that is good for life. Topics are divided into four domains, with a weighting on each:

  • ·        Fundamentals: 20 percent
  • ·        Strategy and Planning: 20 percent
  • ·        Initiatives and Implementation Considerations: 38 percent
  • ·        Infrastructure: 22 percent

As of this writing, the test, exam EK0-001, consists of 60 questions that must be answered in 60 minutes, with a minimum passing score of 67 percent. You can find a complete list of the exam objectives at the CompTIA Web site.

To help you get a handle on the topics you must understand to pass the test, I’ve put together 10 tips. This article will cover the first five. I’ll share the rest in a follow-up article.

Tip 1: Know the terminology
Knowing the proper terminology is helpful with any exam or endeavor, but it’s imperative with this CompTIA exam. You must recognize a great many terms and a rough definition of each. For a list of terms you must know, see this sidebar.

Tip 2: Think from the perspective of three years ago
Although attempts are underway to update this exam, it’s essentially the same test CompTIA inherited from Gartner along with IT Project+. So to pass this exam, you must imagine that you are taking the exam the day that it was written (and frozen in time).

Everyone knows that the tech bubble has burst and that many companies that existed three years ago are no longer in existence. But the multiple-choice questions on this exam do not know that. Instead, they are written from a boom perspective with a view that the Web is ever expanding and replacing traditional channels of business on a daily basis.

As you read through some of the items listed in this article, you’ll question why they are there and maybe smirk about their datedness. Doing so, however, can be harmful when you take the exam. As you study, forget everything that has happened within the past three years. After you’ve passed the test, you can come back to the modern world.

Tip 3: Understand return on investment
Businesses live and die based upon the return they can generate for the money invested in them. Rest assured that CompTIA’s exam does not test financial knowledge at the level you’d find on the Series Seven exams for stock brokers. However, it does expect you to know the basics that would be covered in a 100-level college finance course.

In a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis, you compare the known (development costs, cost of equipment) with the relatively unknown (projected revenues in this untested market/medium). In a ROI analysis, anticipated costs are easier to quantify than projected revenues.

A costs-benefits analysis projects the cost and benefits of buying particular equipment or taking a certain course of action. For more information, read Gerry McGovern’s “Intranet return on investment case studies” and the Comdex white paper “The ROI of Data Quality.”

Tip 4: Recognize legal constraints
According to the old saying, information is free. Of course, that’s true only as long as someone else does not own the information. Federal laws recognize ownership of information in a number of ways based upon what type of content it is. For this exam, you should be familiar with the legal constraints associated with content that can be placed on Web sites.

Copyright protection applies to original works of authorship, while trademark protection extends to text, slogans, numbers, product shapes, and design stylizing. For example, you can’t copyright the slogan “Think!”, but you can get trademark protection on it.

The Fair Use exception (section 107) of the federal copyright law allows the use of certain short quoted excerpts from a work to be exhibited with a review or story. The preamble to this section specifically lists some examples to which this exception applies, including criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, and research.

For an overview of copyright laws, see Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The school also offers an overview of patents.

Tip 5: Understand differences between intranets and extranets
As simplistic as the concept may sound, the differences between intranets and extranets can blur when you are presented with multiple-choice questions. You need to understand the differences between these two types of sites and have a general understanding of how e-fulfillment can work.

An intranet is a private network contained wholly within an enterprise and intended for use only by those with access to the internal local area network. An extranet is a private network that uses the Internet protocol and the public telecommunication system to securely share relevant business information or operations with others who are authorized (suppliers, vendors, partners, customers, and so on). A company can use an extranet to exchange large volumes of data using EDI and to share news exclusively with partner companies.

An e-fulfillment company would be primarily concerned with back-end activities (fulfillment, returns, and customer service). The three basic types of affiliate program arrangements are cost-per-sale (pay-per-sale), cost-per-click (pay-per-click), and cost-per-lead (pay-per-lead).

More tips to come
Studying for a theory-based exam, as opposed to one that tests your product implementation knowledge, offers a somewhat different challenge from what you may be used to. Next time, I’ll share five more tips that will help you gear up to pass CompTIA’s e-Biz+ certification exam.