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The Click Business is here

By K. S. Ramaprasad - Consultant, MAARS Software International Ltd

Big threats and fresh opportunities--that's the Web. Think spiderweb: Is it a dandy way to catch dinner, or a deadly trap? The answer depends entirely on whether you're the spider or the fly. The companies embracing the Web and weaving it to their own ends--whether they're using it to sell products, streamline operations, or automate customer service are thriving. For the rest, blithely buzzing along in real space, things are getting very sticky very fast. In just 5 years, the Net has gone from a playground for nerds into a vast communications and trading centre where millions of people swap information or do deals around the world. Consider this against a backdrop of radio and television: It took radio more than 30 years to reach 60 million people, and television 25 years! Never has technology caught fire so fast. Some call it disruptive technology !

Re-engineering was ruling the roost in mid-90's. But the vast and speedy Net is ushering in an even bigger wave of business transformation. Call it E-ngineering!

Whether business needs are changing technology or technology is changing business, building ongoing business relationships has emerged as a critical part of Electronic commerce (e-com), primarily because of the popularity of the Net and the Web. e-com extends beyond buying and selling to streamlining the entire operations of an organisation. Now, as the point-of-sale transaction foundation crumbles, the new schools of thought talk of building on a base of ongoing customer service, and such cornerstones as 'do-it-yourself' configuration, help desks and 'any time, anywhere' service. Saving money is just the start. The ultimate prize is the creation of new wealth: As the Net tears down the walls of geography, companies are creating entirely new businesses, and tapping markets they never could have reached before.

Many corporate executives may just now be finishing up major retooling of their financial and manufacturing processes; the companies may be fatigued. But nowadays, change is relentless. Charge up for the next round. In the era of e-ngineering, risking burnout is better than getting fried.

The idea of the web sitting on the side of the core business, and just being a venue for random experimentation is kind of over. You have to have a business model, and an economic model, in mind, before you get started. Regardless of whether your business targets companies or consumers, it's a mistake to look at e-com as just a transaction. The evolution of e-com coincides with the elevation of business relationships and customer cultivation as key business strategies.

Here are some signposts in your road to click business :

E-ngineering your company-Get ready for another round. Brace yourselves--this time on steroids. The Net helps you to communicate instantly with every supplier, partner and, customer, and in many cases lets them communicate with each other. The supply chain would transform into a supply web: trucking companies will tap directly into your ordering system for earlier visibility on shipping schedules. Retailers and corporations will monitor your inventory database instead of placing orders through sales. They might configure their own product requirements on-line. The result: Happy Customers!

Bid farewell to your old business model-Think! Where do you stand in the Net age? As you face more global competition online, and have to cut your prices, you need to re-examine the business model.

The buyer always wins-Remember! The buyer runs the show on the Net. Up to now, buyers faced big obstacles in getting the best price and service-limited time and data to compare vendor's products, and the cost of dealing with far-flung suppliers. No more. The anytime-anywhere Net--knocks down those barriers. You better be there.

Re-invent Customer Delight-Have you ever bought a book at Amazon.com? If not, try it-they've done it. The first couple of times I ordered, they automatically upgraded me to priority shipping-a nice gesture. Once they offered to send me a replacement copy by Express courier free of cost, as the copy I originally ordered by standard mail did not reach me by the date promised by them. And they use some smart software to analyse my purchases and suggests other books I would probably like. They're often dead-on. This kind of service with the help of technology wins you the Customer again.

Turn Global, not just multi-national-Never treat cyberspace as a separate Universe. The days are not far when your site would turn out to be what you are-Your 24 hour Corporate office-cum-show room for the Universe. While marketing to other countries might raise some logistical issues, doing so will help you identify which business processes can be aggregated by other enterprises and which should be narrowed and positioned as a core competency.

Spruce up people for the new age technology--Technology is not always the hang-up. In some cases, it's a stodgy corporate culture. For some older executives, converting to e-business is like changing their religion. To work, this effort must be co-ordinated at a higher level-and changes should be fundamental.

Track the money-Now that the new breed of bean-counters, the Venture Capitalists, are scouring the country for new industries to wire up, you need to keep your eyes on what startups are getting funded in the on-line world.

The good thing about the Net is that you do not need deep pockets to have a successful run. The Net is an upstart's haven. So, even if you have a flourishing business in the physical world, it will not take much resources and time for a new player to compete with you. Remember the innovative Amazon.com from a nothing to become the largest bookshop in the Universe. All this while, Barnes & Noble (B&N), the dominant player with huge financial resources kept watching its market being eroded by the upstart and forcing it to get on the e-com bandwagon. If this can happen to B&N, it can happen to you. Thinking positively, if Amazon.com can give B&N a run for its money, so can you!

If your company has the opportunity to bring new information or stated more correctly, a new value-proposition to the customer over the Net, then there may be gold in those hills.

The author may be reached at :ramsap@yahoo.com


India Today Group Online


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