The Internet’s importance in today’s business landscape is undeniable. Consumer perceptions of corporate online visibility and marketing efforts grow more critical each day. To meet this demand, however, the study concluded that many major corporations, while aware of changes needing to take place within the organization, struggled to follow-through with implementation. This article looks into 10 steps these companies take to keep themselves at the top.
Vision and Top Management Commitment
Successful e-business approaches are based on a clear vision, which is the starting point as well as the reference for development and implementation of strategic decisions. The vision requires full senior management support.
Strategic Alliances: Focus on Core Contributions. In the large number of alliances which are necessary to cover the whole value-chain in e-business, senior management must concentrate on those partners who already have a significant impact on their own business success and are thus of strategic importance.
In many highly competitive markets only the number 1 or number 2 brand can operate profitably in the long run. In such markets, the brand becomes a decisive competitive factor, due to its signaling function, its impact on the emotional purchasing experience, and its guarantee of quality and security in the virtual world. Yahoo! was one of the first companies to recognize the value of branding in the technology-driven i-world and is a prime example of the fact that not only established brands can move into the i-world, but that new brands can also be established successfully.
The increasing market transparency of the i-world can be countered by intelligent price management. e-business provides the chance to achieve extremely flexible and complex price determining systems as well as new approaches to price differentiation. This creates new possibilities for sustainable earnings; in the long run the only ones who can escape fierce price competition are those who have mastered the complex set of instruments.
Individualized Service Offerings
E-business enables companies not only to offer a large variety of products in mass markets, but, in addition, to personalize the sales environment and processes in such a way that they offer the customer decisive value added compared to the traditional buying process.
Process Design in e-business
Customer-orientation is the key to success in e-business. The implementation of customerorientation requires end-to-end processes, which differ markedly from those in the real world. The process design must ensure a smooth interaction of software interfaces (Website) and of processes arranged upstream and downstream.
E-business allows you to systematically attract customers in a mass market with the help of a product/ service suite tailored to individual needs. 1-to-1 marketing utilizes personal customer information for the benefit of both sides.
E-business provides the means for customers to network among themselves. Establishing a community which is functioning around one’s own brand generates enormous valueadded. Moreover, the market position is very difficult to attack. So far, few established players have successfully encouraged a strong community.
For established companies, recruiting and retaining capable staff is a constant pain. Innovative people strategies are therefore a key to success. Looking at the example of Intel, it becomes clear how flat hierarchies, high team orientation, genuine delegation of responsibility and attractive incentive schemes can be integrated into a future-orientated corporate culture.
Strategic Use of IT
The complexity of the essential IT infrastructure as well as the investment which will be necessary are driven by three dimensions: the integration of the existing systems, the degree of coverage of the process chain, and the existing standardization throughout the company. In any case the IT architecture must be of a modular structure and scalable to allow rapid growth. The corporate IT organization must be flexible and aligned to the radical requirements of ebusiness. Hotmail who boldly claimed “to change the way people communicate” is today— supported by strategic use of IT—by far the biggest provider of free-of-charge e-mail on the World Wide Web.
As always, the particular industry and environment dictates the optimal blend of each strategy. While all ten steps should be addressed, how we weigh importance on each may vary. The study concludes: “A successful e-business model requires an integrated approach to build the capabilities needed to put the key success factors into practice. Three phases have to be addressed in parallel:
- Strategy profiling
- Business modeling and experimentation
- Implementation and innovation
In each of the phases, four major streams of activities have to be carried forward:
- Operations/e-customer lifecycle engineering
- Talent game plan
- Technology game plan
The first phase, strategy profiling, comprises (for example) the identification of opportunities and threats, the development of product/service strategies and business models, and the definition of alliance requirements. The latter includes the development of a long list of potential partner candidates, to be followed by individual screening and evaluation. At the same time, customer lifecycle capabilities and gaps are being base-lined, and a talent game plan and a technology game plan are being developed.
During the second phase, strategy and people/processes are fine-tuned, an organizational blueprint is defined and alliance talks are set up. Concurrently, operational activities are being prototyped, staffing requirements are defined, and a prototype application is built under the technology game plan.
The third phase consists of implementing the business model and repeatedly evaluating the organization and product/service offering, monitoring operational performance targets, and updating the operational blueprints.