Giarraputo, Joseph, Moore, Howard, Global Finance
Electronic commerce is allowing businesses large and small to compete as never before.They are also realizing that utilizing the Internet means more than tossing up a Web site. E-commerce practitioners and consultants discussed the implications and cost of strategy, security, systems, and cost. Global Finance's Joseph Giarraputo and Howard Moore moderated.
GLOBAL FINANCE: What are the major issues a company must consider while developing an E-commerce strategy? ROBERT BARNES, vice president and co-founder, Intelisys: You need to look at things in a multidimensional way. You can't simply look at E-commerce as a way to satisfy and look after customers. You have to look within the organization to see how to make dynamic strategic changes. An example of this is reengineering the supply chain. The strategy has to accommodate the entire business and find the competitive advantage that really makes sense to the organization. ROBERT BOOKER, vice president, Control Data: E-commerce certainly is the strategy that we want to get to, but exactly what does that mean for each organization? Are they duplicating existing processes, or are they trying to be innovative and come to market with new, creative services to capture additional market share? That whole view of how Ecommerce affects your consumers and constituencies has to be addressed in terms of a fundamental strategy.
BARRY LIBENSON, executive vice president, Surety com: One of the things that we often see happening is this sense of urgency to develop an E-commerce solution.There is often a failure to understand who the customer is and what that customer expects. Hence the solution often generates an unpleasant and extremely costly experience because it discourages interaction.
DAVID ROBERTSON, vice president, consulting services, eCredit.com: A critical one is just organization, making decisions about channel conflict, pricing, and product mix. DAN TWING, vice president of financial products, electronic commerce services, EDS: It is what the company wants to accomplish that is important. That is how you then sort out channel management issues. If I'm an insurance company, do I alienate the agent network I have to go sell directly on the Internet? Or, do I use the Internet to better serve the agent network that I have used in the past?
JEFFREY LYNN, vice president, global consulting, finance industry, IBM: Companies need to start thinking very carefully about their customer value proposition. It might be quite different in the E-world. There needs to be a fundamental rethinking of who the customers are, how they will be served, and what the value is.
CHRISTOPHER MARINO, founder and corporate vice president, Resonate: If you are in a traditional, non-on-line business and try to move it online, you have a whole new set of competitors with less history and fewer existing practices. They have basically a groomed field in which they can develop brand-new techniques, strategies, and services.That may hinder them, because they may not have the brand that is required to be successful, or it may help them, because they can progress at a much faster pace.
ED SCHROEDER, president and CEO, Cornerstone Internet Solutions: Managers must ask themselves, "What is the commitment we are willing to make to this?" The barriers to entry to E-commerce are basically nothing. You need a commitment to building barriers of change, which is the ability to keep a customer so satisfied that it is not worth the hassle of moving from your site to another venue. In this marketplace, if you are doing anything well, someone else will copy it. If you are not understanding your customer and adapting to his needs, you are not building barriers to change.
MICHON SCHENCK, vice president and general manager, financial services worldwide, Sybase: Day trading is the perfect example in the Internet world of what has happened in a traditional market. Day trading has not substantially taken away accounts or customer base per se from the traditional outlets, which are the retail brokerages of this world. …