A Comprehensive Guide to e-Business Strategy

Jan 2


Bob MacAvoy

Bob MacAvoy

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The allure of web technology can be captivating. It's simple to set up a web server, create some eye-catching graphics, and voila, you have a digital version of your core business operations. However, transitioning your business to an e-business model is far more complex. It's not just about creating a website, but about transforming your business model to thrive in the digital economy. Merely adding a flashy interface to your existing business model won't fully leverage the opportunities presented by the e-business revolution and could even lead to failure.

The Pitfalls of a Non-Strategic Approach

A non-strategic approach to e-business fails to address whether your current business model can be enhanced to exploit new e-business opportunities. For instance,A Comprehensive Guide to e-Business Strategy Articles if you have regional distribution centers across the country, the internet can undoubtedly expedite communication between these centers. However, this overlooks the potential of the web to serve the country from fewer distribution centers or even eliminate the need for regional centers altogether. This approach also leaves room for a new market entrant to develop a more efficient channel structure that could outperform you.

Developing a Macro-Level Business Strategy

Instead, you should first develop a macro-level business strategy that provides a roadmap for adapting your business to the e-business era. This strategy should consider your current market position, strengths and weaknesses, products and distribution channels, competition, and new market opportunities. Simultaneously, you should consider the opportunities and challenges posed by the internet, such as the potential to interact directly with customers to streamline distribution channels and the competitive threat posed by new market entrants leveraging the internet.

Implementing the Strategy

The next step is to map a path to implement this strategy, emphasizing delivering a positive experience to your customers, channel partners, and other stakeholders. Avoid the trap of making incremental improvements to your existing business. For instance, your company may be organized into business units, each targeting specific products and markets. These units may be performing the same business processes in slightly different ways, presenting opportunities for scaling across these units. Taking advantage of these opportunities requires a big-picture perspective that necessitates the involvement of top management.

Focusing on User Experience

Your e-business strategy should focus not on the needs of internal departments but on the experience of the user of your system, whether it's a customer, partner, or employee. One crucial area is segmenting your strategy to address the individual needs of different users. For instance, a human resources Intranet should be subdivided so that employees can quickly access information on their benefits and compensation, while HR professionals can obtain the more complex information they need.

The Importance of Personalization

Personalization is often key to providing an outstanding user experience. For example, one of our clients developed a first-generation website that delivered a large volume of basic technical support information but failed to meet the growing need for personal support services. The solution was to develop a more personalized approach that offers significant advantages over traditional technical support. Now, when a customer visits their support site, it recognizes them, the products they own, how long they've owned them, what release they're on, what level of support services they've contracted for, etc. The support site then provides them with a customized interface that addresses their individual needs.

Customer Feedback and Usability Studies

It's risky to rely solely on your perception of your customers' needs. A more effective approach is to let actual customers evaluate your existing site and proposed changes on a prototype basis. Focus groups and usability studies are excellent methods to determine whether your site is easy to navigate, delivers the correct brand impressions, contains the features and content your customers are looking for, and more.

Flexibility and Scalability

No matter how well you develop your strategy, it's likely to be outdated in six months. That's why it's crucial to develop a flexible, scalable architecture that can easily adapt to the future. The use of open standards and industry-standard tools can contribute to the development of an architecture with real staying power. Be sure to investigate the financial strength and market position of the companies that you choose to provide components. Their ability to support you over the long term is just as important as the value of their technology.

Technology in Your Company

Finally, a critical part of your e-business strategy is the use of technology in your company. Are you going to build up your own expertise to maintain your e-business? In that case, you need to develop a programming staff, graphical design studio, editorial staff for content development, etc. Alternatively, you could outsource your technology development to a service provider that will maintain your infrastructure and deliver your applications as a hosted service. This approach allows you to focus on your core business operations and outsource the technology issues to a specialist. Whichever approach you take, develop a strategy that takes advantage of the changes brought about by the e-business revolution, and your chances of success will be high.