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Issue Date: September 2004 (es)

E-business challenges of today

1 September 2004

All businesses work differently, but the leaders in their respective fields all have one thing in common - they must give their customers more than the competition does.
And although e-business is still relatively early in adoption rates, there are early success stories -, eBay, eToys and Dell to name a few. All these companies automated their businesses (not just computerised them) and they provide good value to their customers.
This fundamental business principle was addressed early on in the development of their e-business, and the same should apply to your adoption of e-business. To do this, you need to consider six fundamental challenges:
* Become customer-centric.

* Recognise the death of mass marketing.

* Identify the right tasks to automate.

* Emulate the best practices of your top performers.

* Get everyone to work together.

* Adopt an integrated approach.
Becoming customer-centric
In order to develop an effective e-business strategy, a company must make the shift from being product-centric to becoming customer-centric. By placing customer needs at the centre of every decision and tactic, the entire e-business strategy will become more effective and profitable for the company, by fostering an atmosphere of customer loyalty and long-term relationships.
A company which fails to become customer-centric will make decisions that do no make it easier for their customers to do business with them - and the sad result will be that their customers may well turn around and do business with one of their competitors. After all, all they have to do is type in a new URL to get to a competitor's website.
The death of mass marketing
The age of mass marketing is coming to a close - long gone are the days of revising campaigns and strategies on an annual basis. Companies need to act and react instantaneously in this new frontier because they are effectively working with target markets of one. Today, the popular buzzwords are 'one-to-one' and 'speed' marketing. This new reality poses exciting opportunities for today's business, but it brings with it the fear of operating in unknown territory.
Identifying the right tasks to automate
An e-business strategy, combined with a comprehensive e-business system can automate the majority of repetitive and manual tasks performed by sales and marketing personnel every day. But take care to ensure that the processes and tasks you automate represent your company's best practices and reflect a truly customer-centric approach. If you automate a bad process, you just end up doing the wrong thing a lot faster.
Emulating best practices
Two primary reasons for poor Web sales performance are incorrect prospect targeting and ineffective sales support while customers are trying to buy. To go beyond electronic catalogues and help solve a customer's problem, a website must provide guidance and advice to help customers define their problem or question and evaluate potential solutions. Therefore, if your website uses technologies to emulate the skills of your top salespeople, you will be more effective in generating revenue.
Getting everyone to work together
Who owns customer information? Who owns the website? These are questions which many companies are struggling with, and you need to answer them to carry out an effective e-business strategy. An e-business initiative typically involves participation and buy-in from sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, MIS, and senior management. Everyone must agree on the overall goals of the project, including the shift towards becoming a customer-centric organisation.
Adopting an integrated approach
One of the biggest challenges facing companies today is the temptation to isolate Internet/Web marketing and website initiatives (and also the whole e-business strategy) from traditional, or off-line marketing strategies. To succeed, you must integrate your e-business activities with other traditional sales and marketing activities, from telephone sales to print advertising.
Having addressed these six fundamental business issues, your business will then be able to incorporate e-business readily and successfully into its existing processes.
Marcus Potts, managing director of Maximizer Software
Marcus Potts, managing director of Maximizer Software
For more information contact Marcus Potts, Maximizer Software,

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