Think Big for Success in the Digital Economy

Somehow I’ve never been comfortable thinking small. I discourage my employees from thinking that they are working for a small business. No matter what our size, Tenagra has always thought of itself as a large business in the formative stages, striving to combine the strength, depth, and mission-critical abilities of a large business with the speed, responsiveness, and flexibility of a smaller organization.

In this series of columns for ClickZ, I’m going to draw upon what we have learned over the past seven years about the way large businesses think and act to become successful.

Current industry trends are, in the long term, creating a healthier environment for more practicable Internet ventures to thrive and succeed. Weaker companies and online ventures are failing or drastically scaling back. The decrease in competition and “noise” in the marketplace favors those organizations that have built more resilient business models and profitable operating structures. By claiming greater market share after the fallout, these organizations will become more profitable and flourish as large and sustainable enterprises.

One thing we’ve learned is that thinking large does NOT always mean throwing a ton of money into the latest trends just because everyone else is going in that direction. Successful large businesses are good at differentiating between superficial hype and serious trends. And a smart large business knows that it is precisely when things appear to be at their worst that opportunities are often the greatest because competition is the weakest.

And things really do seem to be at their worst in the Internet industry today. So it should come as no surprise to you that at this past COMDEX, right at the time when the Internet hype was dying down, a blue-chip company like EDS chose to make great fanfare of the launch of bluesphere, the interactive subsidiary of EDS’s division. If you want to hear in its own words why EDS did it, you can use RealPlayer to go here, and see and listen to bluesphere President Brad Rucker and Vice President Joy Chandler explain why EDS chose to wait until after the hype had died down to make its major play in the interactive-services industry.

EDS understands that nothing has changed the incredible long-term potential of e-business and the financial opportunities that exist for those who can successfully implement best-of-class services. However, with the bursting of the artificial financial “bubble” that has surrounded the industry over the past several years, the perverse overvaluation that had occurred in the stock market has ended, and the ranks are starting to thin. The attrition of viable players in the market most likely will continue, forcing consolidation in the Internet industry this year, as it matures and merges with the rest of the business world rather than exist as a separate realm.

Is your organization going to be one that thinks like a large business and flourishes in the digital economy? If it is, then it will likely do so by addressing the kinds of issues we address with our clients on nearly a daily basis. Does your organization have a strategy in place for addressing the following questions:

  • How can my organization use the Internet to build a profitable relationship and richer dialogue with local, national, and global communities?

  • How can my organization use the Internet to create a corporate identity and culture suitable for building a global brand?
  • How can my organization better understand what its competitors are doing online and then develop a strategy for uniquely differentiating itself?
  • How can my organization encourage the media to give press coverage to its online activities?
  • How can my organization get more traffic to its Web site?
  • How can my organization get its Web site ranked higher in the search engines?
  • How can my organization redesign its Web site to make it a more effective and interactive marketing communication?
  • How can my organization understand the weaknesses in its current online approach and implement a process of continuous improvement and enhancement?
  • How can my organization track the coverage it is receiving in online media?
  • How can my organization help others learn about a new product, service, or resource that it is making available online?
  • How can my organization deliver better customer service online?
  • How can my organization increase the sales of its products online?
  • How can my organization evaluate the effectiveness of its online activities?
  • How can my organization turn more of its Web site visitors into clients?
  • How can my organization determine the most cost-effective ways to advertise online?

If you are not thinking about these issues yet, then you are not thinking like a large business. Now is the time to start developing the strategies necessary to address these issues, along with the tactics necessary to execute those strategies.

Reading ClickZ is a good start, but change and improvement won’t actually occur until individuals take ownership of and responsibility for each of the issues; grant authority to make changes; and allocate internal resources, contractors, and budgets to address each item.

Rather than be a victim of industry trends, why not join me in taking advantage of the current situation and moving ahead precisely at the time when everyone else is at their weakest? Answer the 15 questions above, and put in place the necessary processes for the third millennium, and your organization will be well on its way to becoming a large-business success rather than a casualty of the dot-com downturn.

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