A weekly Newsletter covering Internet Commerce
|Internet Commercial Phases||Video conferences in Cyber Space|
|Database Database Database||Whose going to be on board|
|South Australia - please note.||What does the Internet offer my business|
|Whats Your E-mail address||Taxing the Internet - Is It even possible|
|The knowledge society||The Barriers to Internet Trade.|
|New shoes for old businesses.||Three roads from here.|
|We are on the Internet - now what happens.||Selling Consultancy Services on the Internet|
|Think Globally - but try acting Locally!||Meanwhile back in the factory.|
|The masters of knowledge.||All aboard the two wire bus|
|Just Browsing. - Turning Browsers into shoppers|
|The First shall be last, and other examples of bad Net names|
|Harvesting the Future.|
The next phase will rest on the development of the new network and non PC devices. Business to business and business services are the booming industries because they are the most accessible by PC. The personal computer is a most frustrating and cumbersome means of Internet connection
The Network Computer now being released will be a step forward. But it will still have a keyboard. It will still be a single screen device for use by one person at a time.
The real Internet boom will come with the advent of the third phase of users, who will use Television and wireless voice control. (Phillips has put the first of their Internet capable televisions on sale last month).
"Collect my e-mail please", "log me on to MGM and select a musical" "get me anniversary shopping suggestions" "If there is money pay the bills if not order more beer"! "I need some good cake recipes". Connect all major marketing officers of the company.
These are not remote possibilities. This week January 15 IBM announced the $US100 dollar voice control PC product.
So maybe instead of a push-button paradise for on-line consumers the Internet will respond to your wants in a whisper.
Video conferences in Cyber Space.
Video conferencing will then become a successful trade tool. Four or five people meeting face to face with a common purpose is a powerful opportunity for profitable exchange.
To be tied to time but not to place will be a most liberating experience. The potential for beneficial trade outcomes can only be imagined. Join a cotton club, sell your book rights, market your software or talk with cutlery to suppliers in Brazil Norway and Canton all in a morning. Cutting edge stuff.
How will these cyber conferences get organised, who will be the convenors and what will be the expected outcomes of traders bringing their wares to the electronic bazaar.
A few talented amateurs might seize the technology and start enterprises running trade video conferences. But the idea that the current intermediaries will cut out of the loop is a little naive. Trade commissioners, trading houses, conference organisers and trade fair managers have the personnel who know the trade associations, the connections. So the new role will fall more easily to them.
A cyber conference will be the result of a lot of preparation. It will mean combing the lists of contacts, foreign sellers and sending endless e-mail to trade directories.
A rare few video meetings may see completed contracts and strong business relationships formed. Many will be a waste of time. But compared to the alternative, long journeys and expense, it will be worth it.
It will not however be a full substitute for travel.
The human need to shake hands, see the nods of approval as each element of a deal is laid out means that once contact is made tickets will be booked.
Will they ever replace the networking drinkies sessions and business cards become electronic tokens.
A whole new swathe of small firms will be enticed to overseas trade as cost barrier are dramatically lowered.
Cyber conferences will develop as the years go by. You may be able to wander from conference to conference seeking those with a mutual interest.
Cyber convenors will be like a movie stars Striving in the first few frames for creditability, character, seeking quick rapport, command of the medium, agreement on the agenda. They will need the tenacity and diplomacy of the best envoys.
The determining success factor will the formation of effective networks. What may be needed is the cyberspace equivalent of the street corner where enquiring business people can hang out and never let a chance go by. Or perhaps a note board, "rug seller wants to conference with rug buyers". It could get exciting and even profitable.
Database Database Database
Then you spell out what the word potential really means. Potentially you could be the heavyweight champion of the world but lets get realistic. The world may have been at a few strokes changed dramatically but some things remain stubbornly the same.
In the retail trade the words location location location became a mantra. Then for the wise, database database database. Maybe now its network network. network.
The bankers of Lombardy set up modern banking because they had a network of associates all over Europe. Associations have always been important in business, the hanseaic league not being the first.
For the small to medium size business the potential of the Internet looks like a tantalising prospect of world wide reach and access to markets far flung and profitable.
Why is Bangelore a centre of world software. Because wise Indians when they migrated formed networks of influence in the N Y banking and in the software houses of the US.
Do you have networks of business colleagues in Boston, Copenhagen, Lagos?.
The formation of networks of the interested is the most fundamentally valuable instrument in doing business.
The and the Internet will be challenged to permit enable and facilitate the coming together of players with the desire to form associations, correspondence, agencies, colleagues and relationships.
In a word mate, - mates .mates mates.
Each time an epoch shaking technology rolls through itís the wise learned and lucky who guess the industries that will be created, rewarded and destroyed by the new technology.
Bigger than plastic Mrs Robinson, better than chemicals. The Internet is not a new industry but a new medium of communication so its effect will spread across many areas of business. Its not a new sector growing up in the economy but a new element in everybodyís game plan.
Some industries will merely have the costs of doing business reduced. Margins will get fatter, cream will be added to the scones. Lawyers will process leases and serve documents through the electronic media. Access to precedents, cases and decisions will be global. Hold your breath for fee reductions.
Real benefits in effective service will go to brokers of all kinds.
The world has few sights to match the gypsy brokers of Romania as they fight for their commission on a horse sale. Holding hard on the wrists of both parties they gyrate, cavort, shout, curse and wheedle their way to a deal. No deal, no dinner I suppose. On the Internet there will not be the opportunity to grab the other parties wrist. But there will be a larger number of wrists.
Real Estate Agents will be in land agent heaven. With a high value product and a reasonable promotion budget getting party A to sell to party B will be profitably enhanced with the ability to get a lot more of the Bís into the sheep pens.
Given that an Internet site can now provide a walk through video presentation local by laws explained, a welcome from the neighbours, details of schools transport and shopping facilities, that little mansion literally sell itself.
Prospects could enter a postcode and look at the offering in gods little acre. Mind you land is not something you can put in a package and sell to those nice people in Finland.
The recruitment Industry will suddenly get global reach. Do you have a correspondent in London you can trust to interview the prospect for that IT project management in Melbourne. Can you go to video conference with the client and the chap from Abu Dhabi whose resume glows with potential mutuality? Short lists can be pared with the completion of on line questionnaires, skills can be tested on line.
Insurance brokers will have the technology at hand to quickly scan quotes on line, off load risk faster and to offer the client the best available deal. Like the money supply, velocity will add to volume and volume to profits.
Travel Agents will have to get on their scrapers to add value to the service before the customer gets some fancy notion they can book the trip themselves.
So the brokers will have some opportunities and some problems. No big change there. But they will need to be addressed in a faster time envelop and with a high level of strategic thinking.
Protection is offered by the fact that expertise is not easily acquired.
Relationships take years to build and a few clicks of a mouse button will not magically change that.
There are in broking businessís whole cultures and inter relationships which cannot change overnight. Having found that obscure London underwriter will you dump your long term relationship with the American alternative.
The threat of disintermediation, [all the guys in the middle of the relationships become redundant when the seller goes directly to the customer] is real. Maybe not for all the business but for the bulk easy bread and butter bit that makes the money.
Customers book their own travel, get their own jobs, hire their own staff, click a contract for fire and title insurance, sell their own houses?
Maybe but thereís a reason they donít do it now and while the Internet can make it possible it may not make it sensible.
Unless the players do not adapt to the communications revolution and still do business the old way on the new medium with the old margins art the same volumes and fight the change.
That way lies a few surprises.
South Australia - please note.
In the State of South Australia the hope is that over time the economy will move from being hewers of wood and drawers of water to become a modern high tech job creator. Well itís worth noting that this has been done in a similar agricultural resource based area and pondering just how it was done.
In Bill Gates home state Washington USA, a study shows technology-based industries now account for over 1/3 of all jobs well ahead of such traditional sources as timber and agriculture.
Lead author Bill Beyers notes ``We've evolved from a state where natural resource industries were our economic heart into a more diversified economy,'' Beyers said. ``Today these parts of our economy are growing fast, and these are good-paying jobs -- they're the kind of jobs we talk about wanting to create.''
The study found Technology-based industries contribute disproportionately to the state's economy, since 76 percent of their sales are made out of state, compared to an average of 40 percent for the economy as a whole.
Gates (bills dad one of the organisers of the report) noted ``You need the external influences - things like a first-class university, first-class research institutions. You need to be sure you've got the kind of place where professional people want to come and live.''
One signal difference between Washington and South Australia is that almost none of the high tech industries in Washington started with a Government grant or subsidy. Much more crucially no business in the state expect their future to be improved or determined by government handouts to business. Defence spending yes but subsidy no.
Government subsidies tend to crowd out the real entrepreneurs who have their eye on the market and are not constantly on their knees to the bureaucrats who hand out subsidies and the politicians who claim the credit.
Entrepreneurs real entrepreneurs are not delicate flowers that need the sprinkle of other taxpayers money to blossom. These are people so infused with the prospects of the market and the benefits of their product that they beg and borrow to make it an enterprise.
The economic climate, the level of business confidence so vital to that decision to commence a business are not factors in government assistance. Assistance is driven by political considerations, aimed at the voters not the customers. Unfashionable technology or that that will in the short term affect jobs are out.
Property is the preferred investment area of the politicians since its tangible, voters can see it, its in an electorate The
dull stuff of shipping product is a growing day to day event that is hard to gather kudos from.
Thereís also tendency to go for big bang solutions with large companies, guaranteeing positive headlines.
So whatís the alternative. In places going places its venture capital, enterprising lenders and a culture of doing it yourself..
And thatís the South Australian difference. There is no organised venture capital market for the $10 or $250 thousand you might need to start a small enterprise that will grow into a very big enterprise.
That venture capital market can only grow when the culture of putting all superannuating in unit trust funds, in property ,changes. When a small amount is put into risky ventures. Where banks back ideas not collateral and put a fraction of their lending funds in unsecured risk ventures.
You also need a culture a ethos of getting ahead by doing business not waiting on a form of business welfare. In South Australia small business people tell you often they are waiting for the government to put money into the economy.
That a change of stamp duty or an infusion of funds into this or that industry will make the difference. Whose money? Australia and this state suffer from the latter stage of Leninism where the government by
FID taxes, window tax, payroll tax, wholesale tax, car tax , registration tax, gambling tax, drink tax, land tax, petrol tax, lending tax, borrowing tax, transaction tax, income tax, company tax, standing tax, traffic tax, fees, lotto tax, racing tax, siphons about 80% of the money from the population and then in the supreme irony goes to the business community and subsidises them with the money their customers might have had!.
There might be merit in leaving the occasional dollar with the customers to spend with enterprise and grow the capacity of the state to build jobs. By new enterprises that increase the size of the cake. Not the fuzzy illusion created by government robbing Paul to subsidies peter so he can buy from Paul.
The State has an excellent unbeatable lifestyle, first class universities, the worlds best weather, a most civilised elegant capital city, low property prices, brilliant beaches and amenities. Life style alone will not nurture entrepreneurs, nor in my view does Government action.
What is needed is some courage from the investment institutions to place a small fraction of their funds in really risky ventures, and word to spread about the universities and the wider community that good ideas and energy create businessís That business is an honourable undertaking, that it provides jobs tax and livelihoods for the whole community.
What does the Internet offer my business
Well - Just exactly what does the Internet offer business. When the half yearly figures are figured, the stock taken where do the benefits appear.
A lot of business people have peculiar ideas and misguided expectations of what the Internet has to offer.
The nuts and bolts are really quite straight forward.
E-mail chat sessions and usenet groups save money. Internet communication is a cost not an earner. You beat up the fax machine because it isnít a profit centre or whinge at the phone system because it didnít add to the bottom line.
The Internet offers a communications system with global reach for fraction of the cost of the alternatives. You can save a lot of money, get in touch more effectively and quicker with the global economy.
Take a fifty page document of product specifications.
Send it to London by fax, what have they got, a roll of fading flimsy paper and it cost over $50..
Send it by post, what have they got, a pile of paper 50 pages high. Yes they can read it in bed but six weeks later and at a cost of over $100 dollars .
Send it by attached e-mail, what have they got. A computer file, they can print it, read it in bed, edit it forward it instantly to their branch in Aberdeen add it to their other material, post it on the web make computer slide presentations. Itís still digital and malleable. Cost to send? Well maybe ten cents. This year the amount of e-mail sent in the United States exceeded the amount or "real" mail. The benefits speak for themselves.
A point of sale and an electronic brochure.
You run a small hotel in sunny South Australia. The main clientele are retired recluses writing their memoirs. Itís a very limited market. How do you get those elusive punters to Pinara to enjoy the peace the solitude the good weather for scribbling.
A site on the World Wide Web make David equal to Goliath. Those Rangoon recluses retiring Finnish Admirals, the seekers after peace and quiet all now can survey your offer.
You could print at the cost of a few thousands a glossy brochure and the day after its gone its out of date. And how do you distribute in Helsinki? A web page will cost $50 per month, reach Vladivostok and be the gateway to your niche market.
And importantly visitor to the site can be an electronic Oliver Twist and ask for more. A paper brochure invites them to phone or write, something they may consider, Ö. for about 35 seconds before lifeís rumpus room gets their attention again.
You have a flash of inspiration, run that summer wine school, get the university to hire the some lecture rooms, hire some wine boffins to lecture, book a select hotel , sort out some day tours, tasting and restaurant outings and you can offer study tours complete with diplomas in a hands on study of the worlds best wine and the globes best food.
Where else can you market to the retired academics and wines buff en masse with the emphasis on the masse.
You manage a small pension fund., a few mill, nothing stressful, but you had better invest well before the members haunted by low inflation and the investors get on your case. Is there action in Chilean futures, profit in New Zealand Forest trusts, tax advantages in American can unit trusts?
How can you find that all out. You could call in the consultants and they will do what you can do but for a lot more money. Go to the local library, chat up your broker ring Smith Barney. The Internet will plug you into the world library. The virtual one with information on everything and experts oozing e mail magazines on every topic known.
You run a small hospital, its a complicated beast with services flying in one door, contractors under foot, patients and doctors in a constant brawl of hopefully profitable and health improving activity.
Where do you get the new ideas for patient services, the facts to bail up your contractors to step them up to better service at a better value price, from your new colleagues in Texas and Brussels. What will get the patients chatting day and night to their old war pals, pestering relatives occupying themselves on genealogical research? The Internet.
If business is networks of people applying common sense solutions to unique problems every day then getting a bit of synergistic poll of brains on the case can only be helpful.
Well the email and the web should allow you to keep touch with your past sellers sending them an email to remind them that wagon needs service, offering to be their best seller when the time comes. The keeping on touch will be so much easier. You can display unique properties with live video and in specific postal code addresses to punters who have not told their mothers they are thinking of moving.
This may not have been triumphed by liveried town criers on the Greenhills road but word is seeping down through the business culture that a new technological revolution is under way. Like most revolutions sooner or later it will affect business. This time more than just a bit.
Whats Your E-mail address
I heard a lawyer say recently if you donít have an e-mail address in the next six months then your not serious about business,
He exaggerates. But as a means of doing business e-mail has a certain edge . One clear advantage is in turning business enquiries around.
In the door and out in 20 minutes is miles ahead of the open the envelopes by 10am distribute them by noon dictate a reply by tomorrow and type and post it by Friday.
e-mail permits you to use the received message as part of the reply. There is no time consuming paraphrasing of the original message. Simply insert the desired comments among the received message and off you go.
For example say you receive the e-mail message
"We expect your ship "Mary Deere" at Yokohama.
Cargo is fertiliser. Anticipated arrival - February 10 freight is payable by your company ."
The reply is easy
The Italics are your reply
We expect your ship "Mary Deere" at Yokohama.
Its the "Mary Rose" - Destination is Nagoya
Cargo is fertiliser.
Cargo is specifically guano
Anticipated arrival - February 10
arrival March 2.
freight is payable by your company ."
May we discuss who is paying the freight
That can take 60 secs and be in Istanbul in an hour..
This is better than the windy fax or letter that starts "I refer to your recent request for a ship load of fertiliser to be delivered to Yokohama at our costÖÖ etc etc Thereís less room for ambiguity. All the information is available on one page if required. The business gets turned around immediately.
There no dictation letter opening, waiting for the mail to drift down the hierarchy. It all done and filed with few key strokes. Why not a fax. Well one advantage over a fax is that you do receive it when you want it on your desk on your computer where you can deal to it.
Most large companies have one fax per floor if they are lucky. A fax dump begins to accumulate beside the machine until the office junior does the rounds.
Hours later you sift through everyoneís elseís fripperies looking for the your serious fax. Then you have got to fire up the word processor, read their stuff, repeat it, wait to print it, then fax it. You could send the fax from your fancy fax card in your machine. But thereís still the wait while their office junior springs into action to deliver it to the person concerned.
E-mail sits on the computer of your Internet supplier until you (or your systems manager on the LAN) logs in and retrieve it. It all yours, nobody elseís, and the means to reply is right there at there at hand.
Perhaps faxes are an intervening evolutionary stage that God intended we should have until we all get wired for e-mail. E-mail lets you into the Internet communication game.
You can subscribe to e-mail electronic magazines E-zines) on the Internet. By sending an e-mail message to the magazine which includes a prescribed string of words you become a subscriber. The magazines report or what ever dropped into your electronic mail box from Alaska Finland or wherever.
The reverse can work for your business as well. You can invite anyone browsing your web page to send you an email with the magic words, "Info please" and they will get a products description, suppliers addresses and the Christmas offer by e-mail.
All without you spending a penny at the printer (the receiver prints) or licking a single stamp. One very useful feature of e-mail is attaching a file to the message.
Attaching files means that your eloquent descriptions of your magnificent products, the specifications for your widgets, can be added to the message with a few key strokes.
Sending documents to colleagues for comment or amendment is a breeze. They can uplift the document from their e-mail and deal with it without retyping then send it back.
You can work at home and forward the job to your office for to be wrestled with when the head is clear. And yes if you get program files attached to e-mail they could contain viruses.
A good tip is always to have a disc in the A: drive and save files first to there. Then virus check them and leave them on the disc.
You can get items from the Internet, World Wide Web addresses and attach them e-mail messages to colleagues to demonstrate how widely you roamed the Internet.
There are some very clever e-mail packages for sending and receiving e-mail, most of them free. They offer nicknames so that you donít have to remember long stringy forgettable addresses. You simple sent it to Pete or Mary.
Your incoming mail can be sorted out in to tidy folders And no itís not done to send zillions of messages to all and sundry extolling your widgets. But it would be in order to send your debtors a mass hurry up at a fraction of the usual cost. E-mail is much cheaper than faxes for overseas messages.
A page of a fax to say London depending on the density of the images would cost on average $2.50. By e-mail it should be 2 to 3 cents.
Eventually Lawyers will peruse leases and contracts on secure email connection. Last year more email was sent than snail mail was sent in the USA.
Itís the coming thing.
Taxing the Internet - Is It even possible
There has never been a human activity that has not been the subject of a governments wish to tax it.
From the urinal laundries taxes of Rome to the window taxes of the middle ages the onward march of governments grasping fingers has been triumphant.
The result today is that through wholesale taxes sales taxes financial taxes, petrol taxes income taxes, the earners of society count themselves lucky to get home with maybe 20% of their income.
The wondrous thing is that they acquiesce so much in the politicians whims for their money. But thatís another story.
So the movement of a great deal of commerce to the global market is presenting National governments with a problem. The transactions once located in a specific time and place are now geographically free.
Thatís an enormous change. But notice that what has happened is that the Internet has enabled a change. It is partially the cause of it. But it is not the change itself.
For instance the making of trainer shoes to first Korea and then Indonesia. It will be the Internet that will enable the marketing of those shoes direct from there without the movement to the wholesaler, the retailer.
But if you have no control over the place of production, the temptation is then to tax and control the communications that made it possible.
What then are government to do for the slice of revenue that is extracted form the exchange of goods.
In my view nothing.
Take that shining example of the free market the supermarket. The governments sticky fingers only appear in the form of a cascade of sales taxes wholesales taxes. What if the government did not get these taxes.
We would still eat. There would be a shortage of taxes in the government coffers. Is this a bad thing. It might bring an examination of the spending side of the government equation.
Why wreck commerce to pay billions to a railway system that needs sold. Why not let subsidies become voluntary. We could all gather outside our gates and gaily throw our money into large cages on trucks.
These to be driven to the losing industries across town or out in the country and pitchforked into the feeding troughs of the lame duck industries.
The billions spent on maintaining people in welfare might even be spent on getting them off it into a dignified self-supporting existence.
Some local efforts at taxing the Internet providers for the traffic they generate have been shelved for impracticality.
The easy part would be to pass a bill that taxes Internet commerce, the impossible bit would be to collect it.
Consider that if say South Australian wine was taxed on the Internet the seller would as easily shift to selling Californian
product or ship it to a warehouse in Singapore and sell it to Finland from there.
With the removal of the usual intermediaries such as resellers, wholesalers who is going be the entity that stays around to be taxed.
Basically as commerce goes into the wires which lead here and there it will become like the worlds capital markets, not subject to regulation or capable of taxation. Here now 10 seconds later in Kansas.
The sales of CD s in Australia are hurt because of the high sales tax. The usual inside the square argument is to run around trying to tax the Internet sales.
Does it take the wisdom of Solomon to remove the sales tax and protect the local retailers.
The general trend in prosperity for countries is that low taxes, low welfare and high productivity leads to prosperity. High taxes high welfare can cripple even a productive and prosperous economies such as Germany and Sweden.
If in three years time economies such as Hong Kong UK, New Zealand and the US have unemployment at 4% and the socialist countries such as Australia Germany Sweden and Canada have rates at 9 to 12% extraordinary debt and internal deficits of extraordinary proportions then it will be because of a love of regulation and tax.
The Internet will be a test case. If the government restrains itself from trying to do the impossible at a prohibitive cost and instead attacks the removal of most of the countries wealth to the spending indulgence of the politicians it may be a ray of common sense.
The knowledge society
The knowledge society has arrived and few societies are prepared for it. The last great transition was when the cottage industries and crafts that supplied the humble wants of the rural based population were thrown into the cataclysm of the Industrial Revolution.
In that era if you had two arms could stand upright and had a modest grasp of numeracy and literacy you could get a job, raise a family and pay a mortgage. So numerous were such people that Karl Marx forecast they would rule the world!
We now move into a world where knowledge is currency Agriculture occupies under 5% of the population and manufacturing is falling below 30%. The Internet is a harbinger to the on line revolution and an indication that the transition has begun in earnest. To some the cottage lamps are beckoning again.
But three groups suffer.
Group 1: The ignorant and illiterate school leavers Victims of the sad cult of whole context learning and self construction literacy training. This lunacy has harmed the median learners, not bothered the brightest but left those whose houses are not interested in books with less literacy than their grandparents
Group 2: A large number of young people are well educated but unskilled.. In a knowledge society the most precious commodity is knowledge of the job. Previous experience.
Group Three: the older worker whose knowledge has been superseded and is redundant or who were the easiest to get rid of since they had more resources.
The focus in gaining full employment has been to get these groups onto the bottom rung of the ladder All the schemes which might have worked in the depression of the 1930ís have been tried repeatedly and failed.
Why try and cram more unlearned or pseudo skilled entrants onto a crowded bottom rung. of the ladder
Better to move those on the next rungs one step up. Make junior book keepers into accountants, ticket writers into graphic artists. The emphasis should be on giving those in the lower middle ranks a more skilled repertoire.
The unemployable can then train for the first steps on the ladder knowing that there is a place there. While the first steps might be Mc Donaldís or data input but the second and third are open for progress.
The opportunities for a number of players are plain
Universities instead of sitting in beleaguered backwaters of education bleating about lowered income or touring the foreign student pools could to go to local enterprises and contract for online training in areas in real demand.
Private training consultants instead of offering short term courses could provide substantial qualifications online
Prospective students could judiciously mix both options. . Education Al la carte. A skilled worker is both a capital asset and a public benefit.
Enterprises could offer real educational and qualification packages as part of their enticement package to the advancing cohorts of the future skilled.
The State would invest in upskilling the currently skilled to make room for those unskilled to begin the process. A far better investment than the training of a personal social worker for every unemployed and lifetime dole and social security payments..
Real Philanthropists could endow Internet establishments offering such options as a tangible public benefit.
The option is not only to design online MBA courses for the upper ranks but management courses for receptionists and stock broking for pay clerks.
If the receptionist leaves the chair 3pm to online in a conference room would it break the bank to have a part time trainee from Group 2. For the day that she is a real earner.
Group three have opportunities in the training and organisation of such systems, going on line themselves to become contract educators.
Group 1, well its back to square one to achieve what was done in tin shed in small schools houses in the thirties. By rote learning through the screens teach them to read and write
The wider challenge is to remove the notion that education is an activity conducted at specific geographical location to a specific age group at a specific time.
The Barriers to Internet Trade.
The Internetís potential to do what other mediums already do is being tested every day. Newspapers become electronic newspapers, retail stores become Internet stores with product accessible world wide twenty four hours a day. Same content. Different place. Dramatically cheaper.
Last month four doctors at the Wayne State University Michigan, performed and operation broadcast live on the Internet. The operation was watched by doctors across America and Argentina. During the operation, surgeons talked to viewers at the other end of the line, and answered questions. They took advice during the operation.
The Wayne State operation was transmitted for a total call cost of about 40 cents, compared to more than $AU5000 an hour for satellite. A recorded video would not allow live questions. Flying the participants to Pontiac Michigan, accommodating them, would have been expensive, wasted hours in transit and a few would fill the viewing area.
But the next stage will surely be taking full advantage of the Internet to do totally new things.
There are a few simple mundane barriers:
∑ You are who you say you are
∑ This document is what you say it is
∑ This is what we claim
∑ This is your money.
∑ You did this when?
Who are you
Once both parties to a transaction have established their bone fides its possible to do business with some confidence. Solutions so far have been the issuing of electronic Ids, passwords to confirm identity the exchange of coded acceptance notes.
This document is what you say it is.
One solution has been IBMís encrypted envelopes, another is secret keys buried in the coding of the document format. Still to come are techniques which track changes in a document by whom they were made and when they took place.
This documentation problems have been faced and solved before. The notary public in the age of Dickens strove to authenticate that a document was what it said it was - issued by whom it stated and belonged to the party presenting it. Oaths and affirmations and large wax seals served well in a more pious age.
We may need locations where you can present a suitable ID, your document, scanned or digitised and received an authentication code encrypted to a 128 word level safely tucked inside the file for transmission down the Internet.
This item is what we claim it is.
Art dealers use certificates of provenance, which hopefully give some credence that a picture or item of antique is authentic. What if we were able to give electronic provenance and certification for flowers, wool, sheep carcasses clothing antique cars and a guarantor was available to underwrite the transaction. There could be world wide auction in commodities, between guaranteed bone fide buyers, dealing in authenticated certified products. Like the Wayne State operation there would be enormous savings. The crops or items could leave the farm for the ultimate buyer anywhere in the world. No wasted fuel taking it to a selling place, and the valuable time of buyers flying in from vast distances.
This is your money?
To avoid some kid from Hoboken making a serious bid for the South Australian Marino crop we need the electronic equivalent of cheques, the letters of credit, bankers drafts and identification of bidders.
In general the barriers are the same as when business began to be done between people who did not meet each other at the corn exchange, the local mart. Who needed mechanisms so they could do business by paper transactions with strangers far away.
They solved it with authentication, certification, registration, provenance, atestment, guarantors and letters of confidence between registered certified professionals and the Internet will do the same.
A world wide effort in an enterprising market interconnected market means the solutions are coming thick and fast. It remains to the players to select and adopt the better portions.
That done immense value can be added in the migration of auctions, consultancies, information bureauís, educational endeavours to the Internet. New ventures are just over the horizon.
Epochs ago, before the age of paper and the telegraph humble traders loaded their camels for the long dangerous travail over the silk road with some prospect of profit and the possibility of returning alive to spend it.
We have such prospects as they could not imagine
New shoes for old businesses.
The Internet has been in itís commercially useful state for a mere three years. At the same stage of development people were working out how to greet others on the telephone and the telegraph replaced the pony express for short messages.
The Internet ran for about 12 years as a place that scientists and academics could exchange information, chat to one another and update documents.
Itís to remembered that the Internet is merely a conduit for the digital age. The real event is the digitising of the economy. The Internet simply makes this change more possible, cheaper, widespread and commercially viable.
Stepping up from the box brownie.
You took your film to the chemist and they processed it. You went to the mall and they did it in an hour. You put it in the post and it came back in an envelope.
What say you post and a little later get e-mail asking you to drop by an Internet site and your pictures are on there in digital form. Download the best, delete the rest.
One step more. Click your digital camera, download it to the PC which then prints it on glossy paper. By Internet you can load it to a web site, send it attached e-mail to your granny, a modelling agency, add to your online CV or send it to a dating agency.
This is then the final solution to the slide show. Instead of locking the relatives in a darkened room after the Christmas dinner you can tell them by e-mail to check out the photo album on line.
So new businesses are set up and old ones wither. Selling the software for the albums, the scanning services to capture all the photo images are growth areas.
Losers may be the chemical companies making developing fluid, the makers of those complicated developing machines in the Malls. The first printer with an option for glossy photo printing will do well. Transforming digitally captured images into glossy output has been the meat and drink of the printing industry for a while now.
When price of digital cameras hits the retail magic number of $69.95 its a whole new industry.
The Public Typist - aka - Business Bureau.
A stern woman sat guarding the clanking typewriter and for a fee documents could be transformed from scratchy pen scrawl to pristine typed pages all neatly laid out according to the style manual handed down from Queen Victoriaís time.
Later came photocopying, fax services, binding, typesetting, and as many business services and could be drafted under one roof as possible. The first digital steps were the computer and the fact you could get your copy on disk and do some minor modifications yourself.
More digital would be to send your Dictaphone tape by courier to the bureau. The stenographer captures it digitally and the file is sent attached e-mail back to your computer ready for a final window dressing. Or it could be put up on the Internet for a bit more instructions, placing pictures or diagrams.
The next step is the taking of your recorded input directly on the Internet to your office secretary wherever they may be. At that point you have a virtual office but with a human lurking in there someplace. With voice recognition working in a few years the stenographer may simply do the layout and interpret the tricky bits. It will present opportunities for the cabin bound stenographer in Alaska or the Alice Springs business bureau to compete in the same arena.
The music shop
The winner of the Newspaper the Australian contest for the best use of the Internet was the do it yourself CD.
Simply e-mail or select from an Internet site the songs you would like on your "best of" collection. The supplier collects your selection from the digitised archives and they are burnt into the CD for dispatch to your eager hands.
Its all to do with capturing the product digitally and delivering it by Internet or on CD.
Lets view dinner.
Capturing the menuís of a city restaurants and co-ordinating the delivery of the meals means that you could off a real choice of Al la carte dining to your dinner guests. From the Internet select which courses from which restaurants each prefers. The deliverer picks up the two tandooris, three Italian delights and the deserts from the chocolate palace. You serve the wine.
Really ready to wear.
Clothes designers might not be restricted to selling their wares in Paris or in the closed circles of the ready to wear markets of 42 St. A designer might make offers to Brazil, Malaysia, Madrid. All that is required is the ability to three dimensionally depict the garment as finally worn, elaborated with text, comment and make up instructions. Patterns can be printed at locations world wide.
The essence of this new business service is capturing information digitally and turning into a real event and adding value. A picture, a document, your favourite tunes, a dinner and the latest dress from Brazil.
Three roads from here.
One analysis of the current state of technology and business and the Internet is what I would call the three roads view.
The first is the hard core highway that we touch and use every day. The network of gas lines, power grids and highways are the predominant features of the infrastructure. If this highway is dysfunctional business cannot succeed in satisfying customers anywhere.
Theoretically the Internet allows someone in the underdeveloped world to compete with someone in the Ďfirst worldí. I doubt it. Its hard to see someone in Zaire offering continuity of supply. India cannot get to first base until the electricity is more regularly and the phones are reliable and has purged its bureaucratic socialism.
The second highway is Al Goreís information super highway Itís basically the agreements and programmes that drive the Internet and what ever it transforms into.
The ISPs and the Backbone providers agree that any part of the little packets of information box cars or railway trucks with the destination chalked on the front will be routed towards its destination. This simple agreement makes the Internet work.
The commercial advantage is earned by all parties that come together and standardise the systems that will be used in the network. The Internet is successful precisely because nobody has to rush off to government to beg for money, plead for permission or grovel for legislation to make it work.
Itís the Ideas stupid.
The third highway that will make commerce effective on the Internet is the slippery soft intellectual highway. Itís the airy fairy world of the arts, the cultural content, the creative processes. And this is the elusive area that commerce must start to understand before the Internet is fully useful to business.
Hollywood as we have just seen can pull an audience of over a billion to see the academy Awards. The product which received the accolades and awards was initially a "good idea" from a director, an author an agent.
Hollywood became the entertainment capital of the world because it had cheap real estate (this was a long time ago) and it didnít rain all the time. It will retain its dominance in film and televisions against other places, Spain Australia because of the ideas for content that it generates and the talent it attracts. The physical centre of the publishing trade is New York. Thatís where the big players try and guess the buyers taste for magazine fashions and book purchases each year.
The content sources for the Internet will not be located in one place. The fact that the first two highways put the content in front of a whole world changes irreplaceably the current way of presenting and competing for ideas.
The difference the Internet makes is that anybody anywhere can be a provider of content and "good ideas" and anybody can be a receiver.
A good idea may require expensive multimedia presentation or it may be a small manufacturer for the first time saying to a hopefully waiting world. Look see this unique answer to your problem.
And it may not just be the idea in abstract that is wanted. Universities will need to focus not only on teaching people to think creatively but to hint that they could make the ideas a reality in a business.
For all the obvious worth of ideas and the availability the two highways to promote them the most undervalued thing in the world is a good idea. Why? The answer is the resistance to change in more fossilised economies.
Cultures of business that are incestuous, afraid of new ideas, who prefer the smothering blanket of government support to enterprise are part of the obstructions on the third highway. The third highway only delivers value to business that are open to new ideas, flexible in the face of technology, conscious of the fact that their real capital is the grey matter around the premises and their innovative ideas
Which is why California and not the Ruhr is the centre of the worlds software industry. The American advantage has not been vast wealth and an industrial powerbase, Britain had that, so has Germany. Itís advantage and why the Internet and the global software industry originated there is the willingness to fund, generate and take risks with new ideas. It affects to every business from the tyre manufacturer that advertises effectively with a good idea, to the syrup maker who collects new ideas for recipes from the Internet.
If business do not meet the challenge in these changes they will lose profitability and miss the opportunities available.
So having the hard-core highway and the super highway will not be sufficient. Business will need the chutzpah, the culture and the ideas.
If business is being globalised because the super highway provided the means to go global its now time to consider the elementary questions. Who with? Where to? With what? And why?
We are on the Internet - now what happens.
Well if you do not have a marketing plan and a promotion budget the answer is nothing. And that nothing can be a deafening silence.
You have a fine Internet site open for business twenty four hours a day in the worlds most accessible media. Thereís millions of people out there. And nothing happens.
An Internet launch looks so cheap and easy to do that most businessís are ignoring the normal rules of the product launch cycle. Research the market, design and make the product for that market, and promote it through the most effective channels.
Most people think "its a shop" and follow the retail budget ratio for promotion. The retail model spends 90% in building the location and 10 % promoting.
The truth is Internet sites products and services have more in common with the manufacturing product launch cycle than the normal retail model. Manufacturing spends 10% building the product and 90% promoting packaging and selling. Internet sellers using the retail model think that having spent $5000 on the site the promotion should be about $1000.
In manufacturing the product launch involves, launch events with drinkies press releases, media events, incessant and unrelenting promotion in the standard media.
The Internet is giving retail and services suppliers the illusion that because they are now placed in a market of 40 to 60 million people a few search engine listings a flood of e-mail a few raves in the news groups and and business will come flocking. In part its because most site builders are from the software and technical world and are not promoters or marketers.
They assume that because itís so easy technically for people to visit you it will just happen. And the sellers are too confused by the new media to ask the old questions, "whereís the market, how do I tell them about the benefits of my product." Further most think that the way to promote your site on the Internet is on the Internet.
The truth is your shop is like a copper needle in the Van Allen belts.
In my view the budgeting for an Internet site should be the same as a manufactured product. 10% to make it and 90% to promote it. It is the opposite of a Ďrealí shop.
Its still the interim stage of the Internet. The TVs access option has still to arrive. Its complicated to operate and still used by an elite, with expensive PCís and complicated software.
You have to promote - hard.
Say you are selling wine. From South Australia. Good product. Quality and reputation backing up any sale.
Its still hard to beat the old geographical test site. How about Ontario Canada. Good demography, commonwealth culture, a wealthy sophisticated population.
The media channels remain the Radio, magazines, newspapers, TV. TV is too expensive and people donít watch pens at the ready to note Internet sites names, but if you have the budget its hard to beat especially elite cable offerings.
Magazines and newspapers, even better, - small and often. The beauty of it is that you only need the smallest of space. An clearly defined product emphasising quality. Itís like a road sign advertising where your premises are on the Internet where the full offer is spelt out and where the transaction can be concluded.
The difference the Internet makes is in the way your customer can come to you,. not the means of promotion.
When Virgin Airlines launched its Internet site over a year ago it took a small strip on the bottom of the front page of the Times of London. It just said "http//.www.virgin.co.uk. The Airline for Surfers" Very expensive - very effective. But behind that small ad was billions of dollars of brand advertisement, and Bransonís brilliance for promotion. You donít have that (yet?) But the principle holds.
You no longer need to open a string of wine shops in Ontario. After you have gained an idea of penetration per million population from Ontario and cleaned out all the errors and misunderstandings that could stand between you and the paying customer you are ready for Texas, East Anglia and points beyond.
The Internet cuts the costs of promotion but they will still be high. You will need good PR specialists, excellent copy writers effective agents. These people are not cheap. Some you can do your self with the investment of time and effort but even the most rudimentary advertisement needs good copy-writing. A press release needs crafting.
Remember half the world journalists, (the better paid half) are in the Public Relations industry. Thereís a reason for that. The corollary of mass availability is mass marketing.
The next steps is translating the site into Finnish, Swedish, German, Japanese and Chinese.
Essentially then the first thing to do is to reverse the budget. 10% to build an Internet site and 90% to promote it. That $5000 shop to be effective and get through a turnover of $500,000 is really a $50,000 shop in disguise.
You see the world is a big place. Its all there and like the customer you are going to have to bite it off a bit at a time.
Selling Consultancy Services on the Internet
When you are selling services, you need to focus even more strongly than you already do on your client. It is imperative that you intimately understand their wants, and can articulate them in seconds. Why seconds? Because when someone is glancing over a long list of messages, skimming 50 email messages or "surfing" from web site to web site, your prospective client must want to stop and look at yours.
The other difference when you are selling services is the issue of credibility. Fortunately, the Internet is the easiest way I know of to prove your expertise, without leaving your computer or sending out expensive glossy colour brochures.
Here is the key difference, especially if you use direct response methods similar to the ones I advocate: it takes much longer to market on the Internet! Your time is your most valuable (and billable) asset. Internet marketing takes time! If that time takes away from your billable hours, you really want it to pay off. When you intimately understand your client wants, and present yourself in a credible manner, you will find the commitment will fall into place as well.
The keys to building a successful consulting practice over the Internet aren't substantially different from the keys to building a successful practice anywhere else.
Demonstrate knowledge without arrogance. Develop processes and systems to conduct your business. Guarantee your work in any way that you can. Finally, don't forget your all important direct marketing roots, for they are proven Internet marketing tactics.
I'm a real advocate of giving value to your clients, as I know you are. On the Internet, it is even more important. If you study the history of the Internet, and follow the marketing hype today, you'll likely see the phrase "information wants to be free." For many people, that isn't just a saying. To combat that, we need to make sure that what we do is unique and truly valuable to a portion of the Internet prospect base.
Demonstrate Knowledge Without Arrogance.
Anonymity is a two edged sword. While it's wonderful that you are anonymous to the person on the other end; you have to keep in mind that they are totally unknown to you. So you typically have no idea how you are coming across to them. To go around the Internet saying "I am a great problem solver" will do nothing for your firm. (Except make you the object of scorn and ridicule.)
The simplest and most effective way to get past this is the trusty free report. If you offer a report for free, (that is valuable - see above) the report can show the depth of your
knowledge without you having to proclaim it far and wide. Plus, the free report is something you can publicise on the net without getting too much scorn. Finally, since you have a group of information hungry readers, you can really show your prospective clients the depth of your knowledge, the results you have helped others obtain and seduce them with the benefits of working with you and your firm.
Develop Processes and Systems.
Imagine that you have 5000 solid prospective clients who were well paying, fun-to-work-with people and wanted your firm to work with them. Now imagine that they all wanted you to give them a sales call at the same time. Such is the glory and the terror of the Internet. Without a really solid set of processes and
systems the agony you would go through in this situation is difficult at best.
Just like any good mail order shop or marketer has developed systems to deal with leads, new customer acquisition, customer retainment and so forth, we must do the same things in our consultancies, if we want to succeed on the Internet. You must know what you would do if 5000 well qualified prospects raised their hands and said "I'm interested."
What if you had a problem that was really troubling your company. You read advice from a consultant who seemed knowledgeable. You received their free report which had all sorts of quality information in it, and you were almost ready. Except for one small thing. You, as the prospective client, know their name and know they haven't been in trouble with the law, but you don't know anything else about them!
How will you know if they aren't some sort of rip off artist who will be a feature "expose" story in Business Week in a few months? What would ease your mind, if the shoe was on the other foot? The guarantee is the key. Put it in writing, as bold as you, the consultant, can make it. Make sure that you are reversing every last bit of risk the client will have to take!
There is one other area of significance when it comes to selling your consulting services over the Internet: crafting ways for prospects to get to know you on line. (Others talk about getting people to find you -- well, then what?) You must let people get to know who you are and what you bring to the table. Some of the ideas that have worked well on a web site are: a philosophy page, a picture, articles about you, testimonials, voice clips.
Beware the tendency to add a lot of "bells and whistles" in this process. Your goal is to include items in your Internet marketing that make you more real, and hence more credible to the marketplace.
Once you've developed these tools, make sure to use them. It's good to distribute articles about yourself. It's terrific when others are distributing articles about you! If you tell people where they can find your picture, audio clips or other personal information, you'll be far better off than your peer who doesn't use these credibility builders.
One point that many consultants don't realise is that it's easy to form incredibly intimate relationships on line. You can really get to know people, and develop outstanding client relationships.
If you provide value to a prospect, demonstrate the wealth of knowledge you have, have systems to handle client care issues, guarantee your work, and follow "traditional" web marketing methods to gain exposure, you will remove client risk and build your practice more quickly than you'll imagine.
All of that, just because you added a new marketing tool: The Internet.
Teresita Dabrieo at Non Traditional com
Think Globally - but try acting Locally!
The first part gets easier over time. When you log onto the Internet you are compelled, eventually, no matter how provincial you are, to think globally.
Acting locally is however a real problem. Its well nigh impossible to do business locally on the Internet.
Its as if given the keys to the wider doors, the realms of exotic places hold more attraction than the local neighbourhood. Ands its on those vast horizons that most marketing attention is focused.
Doing business locally is a fundamental fact of life. In the consumer market the percentage of income spent on exotic goods from outside your state or city is not that big. Chances are the furniture you buy has travelled only 50 Kilometres, Your groceries come from all over the world but the point that you purchase this collection of goods is fairly close at hand.
What will electronic commerce do for local business.
A city of a million people I lived in had one butcher in the central city. Rents were exorbitant. Only payable by merchant banks and the clients of lawyers. Small retailers had long since decamped. Further there was no central resident population that would support a retail meat shop.
The key to survival was higher sales to the office workers at lunch time and on their way home. But the barriers were formidable. They had entrenched behaviours tightly structured by time and alternative activities.
Who wants to spend their lunch time shopping for meat when the alternatives are wee chats and coffee and sunning oneself in the park. At home time its all a rush. Do you really need a bloody parcel in your bag all day with the prize product deteriorating? And you wonít get high marks from the social club parking your topside in the lunch room fridge.
The answer to businesses survival was the fax machine. The quality meant that meat was almost comoditised. A few seconds quick glance at the butchers window, fax at morning tea a cheery hello on the way home and Bobs your butcher. And at that time only the fax would do.
The telephone would mean Bob hanging on the phone all day. For Bob its easy breezy, pick the orders off the fax parcel them, price them. Any problems fax back.
So what has all this to do with the Internet.
Well a fax machine has the memory and processing power of the average sewing machine. What the butcher did in olden days was remember every customers name, their family size, whether they liked oxtail soup, how they liked their meat cut, thick steak finely cut mince. Along with some idle banter and a warm welcome on a winters day.
Put the Internet in the equation with a drop of JAVA and thereís the potential to again form that relationship by e-mail. On Bob the butchers site there would be free print off recipes, with mouth watering temptations from all over the world. And the difference is that you can access them any time, from home and at work.
For we are not selling slabs of meat steak here but a totally brilliant triumph of gastronomic delight which will live in your memory for days. And of course Condiments delivered by Raj, exotic vegetables by Neville, - delivered to your desk, Car park locker or to home next evening!
The Internet lets Bob the butcher e-mail you every Tuesday at 9.17 p.m. with an invitation to order, visit the site for specials, and offer a few meal suggestions, and check how the holiday went.
More importantly it can do what no fax machine can do. It can take the money so that Bob does not have to trek to the bank with his blood stained tenners.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Local purchasing on the Internet is intolerably primitive. Thereís not even a search engine based on your local postal code to find out whose on line locally. Thereís no local email book for your district Nor is there a way of entering your suburb and seeing what business you could do business with.
The Dewey decimal system that helps you find a library book is a model of sanity compared with the search engines wonderful as they are.
I once heard marketing defined as removing the barriers between you and the customer. Well there are more barriers on the Internet for the local customer than at the race course.
Coming are the yellow pages developing and Microsoft and other vendors are looking at the geographical search model with sidewalk and other products.
The sooner the better.
Meanwhile back in the factory.
The Internet can be regarded as the Information superhighway, the creation of cyberspace or the beginnings of the electronic economy. It is really part of the transformation of reality into digital form.
The everyday nuts or bolts that we see about are to be transformed into digital format. It has a number of ramifications some of them quite commercial. It sounds a bit improbable. Not entirely.
A great deal of this reality was imagined anyway. It was originally an idea in the head of some inventor, a plan laid out in blue print. Or now more likely digitally stored in a CAD-CAM program.
Down to nuts and bolts. Take large complicated manufactured product, like a car or a printing press, or a paper making machine.
How is this hard firm product going to be digitised and why? Well, it's my view that the next addition of value to high priced products is the online electronic framework the product occupies and its information and knowledge component.
These complex products have always involved a long term relationship with the maker. Upgrades in the system, maintenance schedules, the twenty-five volume manual that goes unread.
It takes no great inspiration to see all the manuals moving to CD ROM. The next step is placing the entire knowledge resources, catalogues product lists and technical specifications product and the company on the Internet.
Every large manufactured product would have a CD ROM and associated web site. The CD ROM could include text, video and audio descriptions of the maintenance procedure, the part relationships, the specs. Included would be links embedded to the Internet site and full email and audio links to a 24 hour support service.
In the event of major overhauls or serious breakdowns the video link would be invaluable. The engineer who designed the bit that cannot be unscrewed without unbolting the factory from the foundations will have the opportunity to explain this to the buyers in Madagascar.
For cars the Internet site and CD ROM link can include promotional material about the car, rally results, awards, media releases, features and further options available.
The Internet site for a particular model of car can provide a list of the servicing agents their locations, fax numbers, phone numbers world wide. All constantly updated.
Through the site and email a link can provide to link the owner to the nearest authorised and fully fledged service centre anywhere.
Naturally the site and CD-ROM would have the company profile, how the car was made, what the design team took into consideration, the history they built on. In short a bonding link with the people who built your car.
Special sections would naturally be set aside for serious owners with tuning options to upgrade the beast to a super performer for those who wish such thrills.
For dealers and service agents and others in the distribution chain the Internet site would provide technical updates and promotional releases. They could get market reports and Internet presentations specifically for dealers, a presence on the Internet under the makers umbrella. They would have the ability to order and sell parts across the Internet. In short getting close to the customer would be possible for everyone in the production and distribution cycle.
More like the model used in the computer industry. From this two way conversation the company can get g feedback on their driving experience, suggestions for model improvement, service satisfaction levels.
An electronic link between the company and the customer cements their relationship with the car and itís makers and maximises the potential that their next car will from the same maker. The collective experience of all users could be shared to ensure that best practice and most economically effective use is not the exception but the rule.
In time the product itself would contain a ram chip with its operating history, performance ranges and diagnostic settings. It could through the Internet Ďtalkí to the parent site and give the products actual performance back to the makers. The product could be fixed, modified and maintained through this link. Have your bulldozer get on line at night.
So future machines would have their knowledge component and their link to their makers thoroughly digitised through the Internet. These linkages and resources will maximise uptime and performance of the product.
The purchase of a pulp and paper factory, a printing press, a car would be the entrance to an ongoing electronic relationship with the makers and their intellectual resources and service capacity.
In the age of complexity and the interrelationship of the consumer, the maker and the distribution chain this would be an irresistible marketing tool. Buy our product join our family, drop by our video conference, our machines will talk to your machines.
The value of the product will more and more rest on the
intellectual horsepower of the organisation producing it. It always has. But in addition with the new means of dispersing this supply and market reach it will involve makers of things becoming suppliers of digits.
The hard reality will have to be digitally transformed. Powerful stuff.
The masters of knowledge.
If knowledge is to be the coin of commerce its as well to see how it will be saved and spent.
Knowledge, the raw material of the coming economic age has to now been a adjunct of most businesses, kept in filing cabinets or the company library.
With the coming of computing a lot more equipment gained a knowledge function, content and purpose
The computer contained the bookkeeping payroll system. These were no longer knowledge and procedures in the heads of a payroll section. (youíd look hard to find Pay roll section that in a firm these days).
The library was a prominent feature in professional offices of lawyers , engineers and the large manufacturers. A collection of manuals, Halseys laws of England, a set of magazines and periodicals with someone in charge to fossick out the gems of knowledge.
Knowledge and complexity increased and manuals codified the of procedures and systems. The core strategy was synthesised into a mission statement. Qualifications required to do the job increased. The knowledge needed to do business became a complex lattice of layers of network relationships with the customers and suppliers.
Good management in the flattened hierarchy of the modern firm, was a knowledge consortium of workers, the management the clients and the suppliers. Those who could move and effect knowledge and gain commercial advantage from it were going to profit.
The Internet introduces further dimensions as all those networks and resources are linked by lunches and email. Even the hardware gets together in the dance as the computers of customers and clients are linked in Extranets. K knowledge becomes transparently a common resource of all the stakeholders.
Is the way this process happened any guide to the future use of it? In the recent past the computer operators became the IT managers. The librarians fought turf battles with IT managers. The Research department tried to dominate all of the above. The functional elements of the business, operations processing manufacture grabbed what they could.
In my view all this leads to the inevitable formation of the Knowledge Department. And who is to be the Knowledge manager of this strategic centre of the corporation. Who answers the CEOís most important question. "What knowledge resources do I need to ensure the profitable survival of this firm over the next 5 years."
The Knowledge Manager or Knowledge Czar needs to be part librarian, part Internet expert, part IT professional and mostly commercial strategy specialist. Rare attributes these days. But its hard to see anyone doing justice to the brief without having all the factors mentioned.
The difficulty is lies in the deceptive nature of knowledge. Technically knowledge is easy to store. CD-ROM, Intranet, Relational Databases are all wonderful receptories for the assembled intelligence of a company.
Each incremental increase in technology that comes along brings unforeseen outcomes as Herbert Marcuse has noted. The information revolution of the Internet together with the Internet brings it all to a sharp focus.
The Personal computer flattened hierarchies, encouraged outsourcing, and changed the way we do business.
What if all the intelligence resources and knowledge of a firm become accessible to customers, workers, management. What are the benefits and consequences.
The planning and strategic questions such as product development and marketing become exercises steeped in more knowledge and with effective use of that knowledge more productive achievements follow. The right forest is harvested with the most effective means.
The modern concept of Homo managerialis is that this multifunctional creature can seize the knowledge they need to make quality decisions which fit the mission of the enterprise.
Empowerment implies access to knowledge. It poses the daunting question. . How is the knowledge resources to be collated, analysed, disseminated and utilised in a large company.
Its already been a challenge in the last few years without the added inflows from the worlds largest library at every employees beck and call, and the interlinking of each and everybody in a giant smorgesborg of an Intranet.
The answer probably lies in responsible autonomy. Each actor in the process is going to be charged with better knowledge house keeping.
Within each fiefdom of management there will exist a duty to mine knowledge, to warehouse it to package it in such a way as to make it useful and effective for colleagues and customers both inside and outside the organisation.
And each centre of this knowledge network will have to be independent thinkers and doers in a federal structure. Small is beautiful. Silicon Valley was each a small start up every one. Oak trees are the result of acorns not government ministries. New ideas are not the children of the bureaucratic entrenched forces of large corporates.
Bill Gates most effective contribution to modern world may well be not software but how he organised his creative tribes of knowledge workers so effectively to such original and productive result.
All aboard the two wire bus
When Samuel Samuel Finley Breese Morse invented the telegraph in the 1840ís he came up with the single wire bus and a lot of employment in the telecommunications industry.
He destroyed a small amount of employment in the single horse bus, the Pony Express. Carrying mail at $2 to $10 per ounce depending on distance, it kept 80 riders in the saddle day and night riding 10 miles between 190 stations stretched between St Josephs Missouri and Sacramento. All made cruelly redundant and forced to sit at home sewing buffalo cloaks for tourists. Federal Express with the advantages of 747ís and central hubbing offered cheaper rates in the 1980ís from a base in Kentucky.
But I digress. A bus to my understanding is a wire harness down which tagged messages or instructions pass. Itís the fundamental reason your personal computer works.
With the telephone came the two wire bus. Itís now being used in the home control industry where you can control all of your lights gadgets, security system and paraphernalia. No house complete without it (The bus in Bill Gates new house is 52 miles long.)
Invention is a bit like cooking. Good cooks grab a bit of this, some of that, an idea from here and presently after a bit of simmering - gastronomic delight. Its the same with bad cooks, they grab a bit of that, whatever was left over of this, and lots of the other and in no time you have those dreadful goulashes which students wolfed down lying that it was all right.
Well the difference is discernible. Good inventions work and are patented and sold in millions.
But we can speculate may we not what the two wire bus would look like if we added a dash of the Internet, a drop of information display technology and some commercial imagination.
One useful invention would need a step forward in flat screen technology. Itís over a hundred years ago in the fine city of Strasbourg that Karl Braun invents the Braun tube. Thus we are using Cathode Ray display technology that is over a hundred years old. Well past time for an improvement.
Given that eventually somebody stirs themselves to improve on Karlís notion we might have access to decent flat screen technology. Lets say an inch thick, the size of a newspaper page at under $50 dollars. Add the Internet and you would have the Distributed Image Display industry. DID (always wanted my own acronym.)
A massive step forward in touch screen display with the information distributed from central web sites which can of course located anywhere. With DID (distributed image display) every suburban mansion could have access through the Internet to images of the worldís art. Early settler, post modern or Italian masterpieces on finely framed portrait screens would add a tasteful touch around the home. From the Internet to an internal wireless telephony network in milliseconds.
Portraits of grandfathers, relatives, rapidly put in place when the relatives visit. Fresh modern works transmitted from my net friend Oleg at //www.geocities.com/SoHo/7620.
Say Oleg had 5000 customers at a weekly rent of 30 cents each (itís $1500) this would provide him with a few more paint brushes, fees to his artists and a drop of John Powers finest to see him through a winter on the Steppes.
Billboards could show trees when no one was there and ads when someone was. (no itís not exceedingly odd)
More sensibly take the two wire bus sound system at Adelaide railway stations. Press the button and the voice says, the next train to Noarlunga central will be at 2.03pm. Clever stuff. But what if we had our DIDs flat screen technology in place. From a central Internet site we could also show where the train was on the line, when it would arrive, where it was going. All the trains in the system even just to amuse the children (of all ages). We could further tell travellers that if they went to Goodwood the next Belair train went south at 2.30 and further that at the adjacent bus stop the 2.33 would take them to Unley.
Add the short term interactive car hire system now pioneered in Amsterdam and the system becomes interesting. (No I didnít flog a white bike when I was there in the 60ís. They all fell in the canal.)
In this system electronic intelligence has been added to the car hire industry. You can hire a car for an hour a day by simply going up to it sliding your card in the slot entering your pin number and take off. No paper work. What if an enterprising hirer made cars available at the railway stations. With DIDS patrons could book a car for say two hours use on their arrival at Grange. Should the next client at Gawler say order a car at Grange the firm can then respond with the response "it will be there when you are" and in the immortal words of Jean Luc Petard and "make it so"."
A booking fee going to Trans Adelaide and no worries about parking paying stamp duty and all the interesting highs and depreciation worries of owing a car.
Super markets could use DIDS (its Distributed Image Distribution) to up date the specials in the store from a central location.
Its just a means of getting information from a web site to a person in transit. Simpler than a complicated PC in a kiosk.
In the full version Distributes Image Display User Monitor System(DIDUMS?) you could search it charge it order it. No complications, some touch technology a two wire bus and the Internet.
Eventually the screen in the railway station should order the fish and chips delivered before you board the Noralunga train and have them ready piping hot and paid for when you reach your humble abode The one with the wall to wall glowing Monets.
The First shall be last, and other examples of bad Net names Peter Hadekel, The Gazette
Look out for traffic on the Internet. In the crowded world of
electron ic commerce, thousands of companies with similar-sounding names risk losing customers because they can't be easily identified.
"Weak, confusingly similar or nearly identical names will not survive the power of electronic commerce," says Naseem Javed, a corporate-name consultant and president of ABC Namebank International Inc. Of Toronto. "The duplication factor alone will bury most names in complex
The number of business-name registrations world-wide has exploded, leading to a serious dilution of names in the marketplace. The problem is compounded by a major drawback of the Internet - the difficulty of searching quickly for names and information. If you don't have a company's Web-site address, a search based on the name alone can lead you through thousands of similar references or "hits".
What you find is a lot of copycats without too much imagination. Javed recently completed a study of business names on the Internet that illustrates the point.
He found 8,793 names containing the word 'web', (including Webtron, USWeb and Webtech) and 7,901 names with the world 'link' (like Linknet, World-link, Linksys). Considering use of the word First for an Internet listing? Join the club, along with 5,384 others Firsts (including Firstbank, Firstserve and USFirst).
Needless to say, avoid the word Net, unless you want to be confused with 4,426 other names such as Netcom, Netheads and Nets Inc. And if data is your business, watch out for 3,335 other companies with the word data in their names, such as Datatron, Datapro and USData.
The point here is that even if customers manage to find one of these companies through an Internet search, brand recognition is blurred when so many similar names compete for attention. Javed believes the phenomenon will simply get worse as we enter a virtual society where "zillions of wireless images and messages will be racing against each other."
Generic names will not survive the crunch of electronic commerce, he says. When you have a Netelligent, an Intelliquest and an Intellifax competing for attention, how do customers keep it all straight?
The beauty of well-known brand names like Nike or Sony is that they are so easily identifiable from the crowd, Javed says. "There is a lot to be said for highly unique, proprietary naming."
His own golden rules for choosing a business name start with the premise that a company should never lean under someone else's umbrella, or it will wind up getting wet.
"Don't be a copycat. It is very bad to copy or borrow from an established identity," he advises corporate clients. Trying to resemble an established legendary name is fruitless in the long run.
Creativity is important but over-creativity can be damaging. "Do not twist, bend, stretch, exaggerate, corrupt or modify alphabetic structures," he says. "It may result in difficult, confusing and unpronounceable names."
As an example, he cites the decision by WIC Western International Communications to name its wireless-network division WIC-Connexus. "It's a real silly name."
Even the highly touted Mbanx name chosen by the Bank of Montreal for its electronic-banking division has potential problems if extended outside the country. "It works okay in Canada but in the U.S. there are a lot o f "M-related companies," Javed says.
"Their concept to get out of a Montreal association was poorly delivered."
Work locally, but name globally, he believes. "A name is only good when it is free and clear to travel around the globe without encountering translation problems or trademark conflicts."
The advent of electronic commerce has made life more difficult for naming consultants such as Javed. "I have nightmares. What I could do five years ago, I can't do today."
"If you want to get into Internet commerce, you have to make sure that people can find you more easily than they did in the print media
Excerpt from CSS Internet News for subbscription details email them with SUBINFO CSSINEWS in the subject line.
Harvesting the Future.
Let us, if we may, travel sideways into the future and observe doing business on the Internet in a few years hence.
Its 1999, and aside from the accruing funds for the end of year party, your main joy is Bruce Floggers "Big Braganza" Internet package.
Itís the mother of all computer applications for business on the Internet, the one that sent Microsoft into a spin it may not recover from and gave Larry Ellison more Java than he could handle. This is Java with a jolt.
Its a series of Java Application programs located on the giant server in Kadina, (Bruceís Home town). It handles all invoicing, inventory, correspondence and accounting. Customised book keeping software much like Quicken or MYOB from the old days constantly updated on the Internet with customer requirements, and tax changes
Indeed ever since the Government started adjusting the rate of GST weekly in line with M3 and the deficit its been invaluable. Invoices are dispatched by email, fax or post from a form generating site in Naracoote ( Bruceís Mums home town).
Correspondence is much the same. Grab the microphone or take out your digital recorder in traffic and press button e and the digitally recorded dictation is off to Kadina, and communication is either printed on your stationery and posted or fired through the email system to the customer.
The thing about the "Big Braganza" package is that since the whole thing is actually running from your customised database at Kadina and backed up at Adelaide (Bruceís Brother lives there) its all interchangeable.
Thus all your letters are a giant indexed database with all words tagged in a Systems Query language as are the invoices and the contact lists of the movers and shakers in your customers organisations and the ordering of raw materials and product specs.
Ever since the downsizing of the planet removed all those useful people who found phone numbers, kept your diary, found lost invoices and made tea when they could not be found things went to the pack until Bruce got the idea for the "Big Braganza" package.
Itís commemorated in a statue outside Kadina - Bruce sitting in the combine Harvester with his hand under his chin thinking "Iíve had a bloody guts full of this."
What happened after the great downsizing of 1998 was that every passing software firm invented a different package to do all those useful things that people did but of course following Danielís law "Every piece of software is automatically incompatible with every other piece" they increased in number prodigiously.
It became a nightmare. No sooner had you entered all your numbers and contacts on the fancy contact maintenance package, Tracker, ACT, Goldmine, Microsoft scheduler and your Fax package than you lost track of all of them. Was Better Bacons number on Goldmine, did you hide it on Schedule when you made the appointment. If you follow the 35 steps to printing a report on this unfathomable package will you get access to it again.
You were writing a letter to that crowd but the invoice is on the Quicken contact list and what was the arrangement you made for discount. They will blow their top if you donít front up with the discount you faithfully promised.
Bruce has come to the rescue on this and provided every small business with itís own data warehouse accessible from the Internet. Its all seamless, the spreadsheets, the contact software the word processor, the billing and bookkeeping system, the manufacturing control data.
And for a fee - Bruceís offers clever little applets to video conference with your widget sellers in Malaysia. If you want a copy of the last research on widget promotions in Hong Kong thatís not a problem for its all in your resources on Bruceís handy "Big Braganza" package.
Bruce actually supplies this not as a series of software packages sold bundled in discrete parts but more sensibly sells you time on his system. When you bought the system his nice workers came around and popped the network terminals on the desk (reasonable at $399 each), and switched on the "never go wrong " training program. No servers or fancy boxes out the back. A router near the wall and a monthly charge for the database and system use and off it all went.
The cleverest trick that Bruce thought up on the combine harvester was the "Big Braganza" resource package. After he had a few hundred customers Bruce started accumulating a database from the Internet which by now had 18 squillion pages on everything. He extracted those that matched his customers needs. Everything from the Saskatchewan list of combine Harvesters depots to the "Widget Dimensions Database" of the University of Pennsylvania.
Loved that. Not a widget moved anywhere but you were up on it. The Government remained impossible to deal with but Bruceís special "lost in the data base" package meant that the multitude of demands and forms and imperious regulation were lost in a time warp for at least a month while cashflow crept up to meet demand.
As for debtors enforcement well, 90 days overdue became a forgotten phrase after a few of Bruceís lads took to collections on the combine harvester.
The secret of the whole package was when all else failed, (and it seldom did) there was Beverley, all bright and blousey, who appeared on the video screen. Bruce hired her from the Kadina tea-rooms and when she came on screen with her "Whatís the matter now love" you knew all was in good hands. Sometimes you would throw a spanner in the works on purpose
It got a bit lonely after the manufacturing was outsourced to North Korea and the office staff were let go.
Just Browsing. - Turning Browsers into shoppers
At the dawn of the Internet they called them browser software packages that allow you to see the World Wide Web.. Why? They could have called them viewers or site visit software. Browsing implies grazing skimming over something with no involvement in the content. Surfing is the same. One surfs over the surface. Its a detached vicarious visit with no real contact.
Its all so fleeting. Now Finland on the next click Jackson Hole Wyoming. In the middle of all these flying visits these ghostly calls how do you do business. How do you contact these high flyer through your domain.
The retailer faces this problem in the real world. The rules are elementary and profoundly practical. The feedback as to whether you were doing the right thing is instant and immediate. The till rings. Cash piles up the door bell rings merry all the day.
First the strike rate. Basically its how many people you get off the pavement into the shop. You need the shop window promotion, advertisement, attractions, brand image, attention. Its the first P of the retail trade. Promotion.
Next was to convert these browsers you had got in the door into purchasers. 50 people in the store if 30 bought something this was brilliant. It meant your offer price and product was on the mark. placement and price. You and your goods in the right place and in the right price bracket.
for placement and price The Internet has of course some advantages. You can swiftly redecorate the front window. Its digits not timber and papermache. You can have whole new areas of your shop screened off ready to unveil as the merchandise is available. You can put up a shop or trading post for your product very cheaply. Prices can be adjusted hourly.
The conversion of Browser to purchasers depends on the type of customer. Not all customers are the same. They are the "I know everything listen while I tell you. Customer" The "I want it immediately now and then I want out of here customer" The "I am a slow developer, leave me alone customer" The "Tell me things then Iíll decide customer"
These are well recognised by the beleaguered shop assistants of this world.
A web site must cater for all of them. For "I want it immediately now and then I want out of here customer" the order pages must be available for immediate click through not buried after three sub levels of the site
For "I am a slow developer, leave me alone customer" navigation through the site must be clear, evident and product information plain and concise.
Strangely the "I know it all Customer" need lots of product information so they can agree with it, disagree with it. They need a respond email e-mail option so they can tell you off, note you got the facts wrong or impress you with their superior knowledge.
The slow developers want lots of pages autobots whereby the can email for more information. All of them want credentials. Proof that you are reputable. They need certificates from merchants associations, comments from satisfied customers, guarantees, references from other sites.
You need no barriers for browsers to buy. Credit card acceptance on the spot. The offer must be refreshed and repromoted often. Soon I predict we will have general ad sites like the supermarket flyer in your letter box. What will really get you some qualified browsers will be the bundlers. The aggregators. Those who do a "we will find it and get it there merchants."
Recently I make one of my forays to a giant Mall .I wanted some quite mundane things, some string, super glue, a high lighter, some grass seed. I was in fury by the time I left the centre. I could find nothing easily and it took two hours I did not have.
Why canít I enter my list of humble wants on the web. Visit the site 10 minutes later, see what they are offering me. Polypropylene string, long string manila hemp string, gardeners string. Make my selection based on need and price.
Select my copy paper, Brazilian, Australian - Click yes to my selections and open the door a few hours later to the delivery man.
The goods will be cheaper for not needing display and presentation. This will be a boon for uncomplicated standardised goods. For complicated products and those where taste is involved the future of the web is the extensive demonstrations of products. Browsers will get their appetites rightly whetted.
With more bandwidth must come audio visual presentation models on cat walks - descriptions of the intricate seams on the garments. Blow by blow technical descriptions of the computer package you wanted to buy. Presentations giving the full story- factually -frankly.
Me for standard products I will save two hours and the petrol.
For time is money and to waste it searching the mall for shops that carry the merchandise, getting annoyed because they have got it havenít got shop assistants is not going to suffice.
The three hours can be spent earning money and if the task can be accomplished in 10 minutes on the Internet tell me that it will not be a raging success.
For those with the cash and time to practise shopping as entertainment to the coffee shops I say.
But to functional shoppers who want a modem, a box of disks a few pounds of sugar and some basic groceries to get through the week end, lead on Mc Duff
End of the Netwatch commentaries
Toolkit main index
Toolkit main index