Determining your Competitive E-business Strategy
E-business Intelligence as Competitive  E-business Strategy
E-business intelligence gives critical Internet market feedback to an enterprise.  It is an enterprise’s method for measuring and managing return on investment (ROI).  However, the biggest oversight about determining Internet Return On Investment (ROI) is the inadequacy of meaningful metrics to measure it.  Current metrics are limited to web site effectiveness, not the impact of the entire Internet on the business.  They answer the “what” but not the “how” or “why” of what happened on the Internet.  They suffer from limited availability, coverage, and effectiveness.  As an example, real world measurements exist for down time, system reliability, quick ratios, and cycle time; but not for advertising effectiveness, site comprehensiveness, or audience satisfaction.  Enterprises are missing windows of opportunity by not capturing and monitoring the appropriate metrics.  

E-business intelligence is driven by answering key questions such as:   
  1. How can our site maximize its traffic?
  2. Does our company/site have the “right” Internet affiliations?
  3. How are our company’s products being distributed on the Internet?
  4. Are other companies leveraging my business to drive their business?
  5. Are my affiliates complying with set guidelines?

The answer to these types of questions becomes the fuel for future business strategies/models.  Then upon implementation, these strategies are monitored for their impact and effectiveness on ROI.
New Revenue Generating E-business Models
Proactive enterprises are capitalizing on Internet opportunities using new E-business models.  These models are:  
  • Advertising - revenue generated from web site hits or “eyeballs”
  • E-retailing - revenue derived from direct Internet sales
  • Channel - revenue produced from maintenance of current channel integrity
  • Affiliate - revenue made from paid marketing alliances
  • Franchise - revenue created from authorized agents
  • Subscription - revenue derived from payment for content access
The Pervasive Effect and Reach of the Internet   
The Internet affects all areas of your online and offline enterprise.  These areas include:  
  • Legal - Are sites cybersquatting or infringing on copyright, trademark, patents or logos belonging to your company?  Profiting from slight differences in domain names or peddling counterfeit wares means outright lost sales.  It also conditions the public to accept piracy as a legitimate distribution channel and sets a precedent that your content is “free.” 
  • Corporate Communications - Are sites involved with cybersmearing?  Increased Internet usage could mean added exposure to attacks on your company’s good name.  For example, are sites promulgating untruths or rumors about your products/services or ruining corporate reputation by associating your communications with pornography?  Unsavory communications of this nature can offend potential or current customers.  
  • Infrastructure - Are sites incorporating the optimal technologies?  Don’t be the first to adopt bleeding technology, but then again, don’t be the last either.  Interface design, applets, and cutting edge applications/tools can become the stuff of great websites.  
  • Interactive - Are sites doing what it takes to attract and keep customers?  There is first mover advantage when signing with the best affiliates but are they respecting exclusive, noncompeting clauses and other guidelines and not diverting traffic?  Are sites wrongfully implying or claiming a relationship with your business?  The inability to control how your brand or services are characterized on unauthorized sites has the potential of negatively affecting your bottom line while improving theirs.  
  • Strategy - Are sites aware of what their partners are doing?  Relationships that work in the conventional offline world may not be advantageous in the online world where geographical boundaries are non-existent.  This produces additional issues concerning product pricing, supplier relationships, management, and distribution channels.
The Purpose of E-business Intelligence
Monitoring the Internet for nefarious activities against your enterprise is ineffective because the Internet is too large to find all the violators.  Instead, use E-business intelligence to implement a process that combats the worse Internet violations perpetrated against your business.    
This 4-step process consists of:  
  • Understanding the scope the Internet represents.  The Internet changes every second of every day.  It is growing exponentially from its estimated 800 million pages with no end in sight.   This is not a matter for guessing.  It is critical that you have the correct answers to questions such as:
  • What is our exposure on the Internet?
  • Do we have adequate tracking and trending information?
  • What issues will affect the bottom line today and in the future?
  • How do we position for growth?
Putting together numbers, contingencies, and scenarios that simulate or project possible outcomes can help baseline what types of trends can and should be tracked over time.  
  • Developing policies and procedures.  All websites are not created equal.  This justifies applying different consequences and treatment for those that violate your business.  Depending upon the offensiveness and offense, appropriate responses from your business come from official corporate policies and procedures.  For example, unsanctioned web sites can be divided into four categories.  Those that are unprofitable are ignored by your business; those that are positive can be either exploited or sanctioned by you; those that are negative require correction and monitoring to ensure continued compliance; those that are illegal must be eliminated.

  • Implementing proactive measures that are both repeatable and sustainable.  Your business’ responsiveness is predicated on E-business criteria.  For example, offenses perpetrated by fan clubs might justify notification to desist by registered mail while commercial ventures make their case in court.  Begin with actions/behaviors that truly affect your bottom line business and then be consistent and persistent about how they are remedied.  
  • Being decisive.  Business is a competitive business.  The addition of E-business makes it even more so.  Whether your enterprise is the eater or the eaten is a matter of being attentive to the eyeballs.  Either affiliate to drive people to your site or cut bait because time costs you in competitors.
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