eBusiness entails the strategic use of information and communication
technology (including, but not limited to, the Internet) to interact
with customers, prospects, and partners through multiple communication
and distribution channels.
Siebel, Siebel Systems
I received an email
recently from a young lady that said, “Can
you help me promote my website or recommend someone that can?” I
called her up, asked her a couple of pre-qualifying questions and scheduled
an appointment. I met with her in her office, tucked neatly in a brownstone
against the Harlem, New York backdrop of 125th street just a few blocks
I began as I usually
do by asking her to tell me about her business. Interestingly enough,
she is in the business of adult toys—very
tasteful I might add. She told me that she started out with a full-time
day job and booked parties on the weekends where she and her partner
would sell their wares. She’s regularly booked six months in advance
and made so much money over the last year that she decided to quit her
day job to devote her time fully to her business.
When I asked her
why she wants to promote her website, I learned that she only gets
about four orders monthly from web site traffic, her current
customers use the website as an online catalog but never really purchase
online, and if she received 100 orders tomorrow, she would not have the
womanpower to fulfill them. The next question, of course, was, “Do
you have a marketing plan?” “No.” “Do you have
a business plan?” “No.” “Wait,” she said. “I
just picked up this book on business plans.” She showed me where
she had highlighted certain sections and told me how she was explaining
to her partner how important such a plan was.
Both her and her partner anxiously looked at me. I wondered how they
were going to react to what I had to say next. I figured that after they
heard my thoughts, I would earn their respect and be a credible resource
for them. But on the other hand, I could just dive in and help them put
their website in the fast lane which is why they contacted me in the
I looked at her,
glanced at her partner, and then looked her in the eye. “More than promoting your website right now, you need a business
plan and a marketing plan that includes a comprehensive section for web
marketing. And, to really take your business to the next level your plan
should cover all aspects of eBusiness,” I said. The expression
on their faces, asked the next question, “What is eBusiness?”
What is eBusiness?
As they sat there,
like little sponges, soaking up my every word, I began to explain where
I was coming from. You want to use the Internet
to generate sales and grow your business - this is eCommerce. eCommerce
is a small piece of the pie called eBusiness. “eBusiness enables
organizations to derive maximum value from every interaction and to continuously
improve the quality of the customer experience.”1
This makes sense
for her business since the commodity being sold is – you
guessed it – pleasure. The majority of her sales rely on customer
experiences. eBusiness simply builds on the cornerstone of her existing
business. Many of us hear the term eBusiness and believe that this concept
is reserved for big business. How contraire. Yes, big businesses like
IBM, Chase, and Marriott have implemented very successful eBusiness strategies.
But, who’s to say that these principles can’t be applied
to small business, maybe your business?
How can eBusiness Help Your Business?
In his book, “Taking Care of eBusiness”,
Thomas Siebel cites 5 things that eBusiness enables organizations to
- Record, measure, update, and analyze (in real time) large amounts
of finely detailed, customer-specific information.
For small businesses, where costs rule and analyzing data in real time
might not be the most realistic, processes should be put in place for
recording customer profiles, contacts and the result of each contact.
A periodic review and analyzing of this data should be performed consistently.
and personalize all interactions with customers, prospects
and partners – over
time, across communication channels, and across all functional
areas and lines of business within the organization.
The whole premise of eBusiness is to give customers multiple ways of
interacting with your business. Thomas Siebel calls these ways, channels.
Going one step further is the personalization of customer interactions
no matter what channel they choose to use. In small business, this can
simply mean, reordering client specific data, gleaned from conversations,
phone calls, information from the last sale or customer inquiries and
using this information in the next interaction.
- Program “intelligence” into
every customer-facing process and optimize these processes.
using the full power of eBusiness, businesses are able to analyze
and forward them to the best source—web, phone,
email, etc. This goes a long way in improving customer service.
intimate, one-to-one, relationship-based marketing, sales,
buzz word in business these days is “relationship building”.
This is being touted in marketing and communication approaches. eBusiness
builds on this approach by enabling businesses to recall all customer
interactions - past and present. When executed properly this can
be quite impressive to the customer because businesses are able to
use and recite
customer information despite the channel of communication used by
the customer. What an enriching customer experience this can be when
offerings, services, and communications are customized to match unique
an optimized, integrated, ROI-based (return on investment-based)
system of multichannel marketing, sales, and service.
How often do small businesses measure the return on investment for every
day business tasks such as marketing, sales, and service? eBusiness can
help determine the profitability of your customers so that you can make
wise business decisions.
Benefit From eBusiness
So how can your business benefit from eBusiness? Do what the owner of
the adult toy business is doing. Create a comprehensive business and
marketing plan centered around eBusiness and think about integrating
your sales, marketing, accounting, and service software applications
to include gathering data from all channels (Internet, phone, email,
etc.). You will save time, money, and gain a competitive edge if you
L. Richmond is the founder and CEO of Richmond Technology Solutions,
Inc. a Long Island, NY based firm. She hopes to inspire
individuals and businesses to use technology as a tool of empowerment.
You can contact
her at email@example.com