Websites the tip of the iceberg

A website is the tip of an iceberg, says Philipp Shaumann, management consultant of Syntegra Singapore -only so much is visible, but there's a lot more unseenBy Samuel QuekSINGAPORE, 7 June 2000 - There's a lot more to a web presence than just putting up a web site, says Shaumann,who was speaking at the eBiz 2000 summit, part of CommunicAsia 2000 happening presently in Singapore.Syntegra, part of British Telecom, focuses on strategy and e-business consultancy.

A website is the tip of an iceberg, says Philipp Shaumann, management consultant of Syntegra Singapore - only so much is visible, but there's a lot more unseen

By Samuel Quek

SINGAPORE, 7 June 2000 - There's a lot more to a web presence than just putting up a web site, says Shaumann, who was speaking at the eBiz 2000 summit, part of CommunicAsia 2000 happening presently in Singapore.

Syntegra, part of British Telecom, focuses on strategy and e-business consultancy. They also perform needs analysis and applications design, as well as rapid prototyping and development.

Technology used to be there to cut costs, says Shaumann, but now IT is here to compete for and retain customers.

Dance like a butterfly...
There are several key factors for creating a successful online presence, he said:

  1. The site content should be managed by the business people, and not the IT people.
  2. The content should be attractive and up-to-date.
  3. The presence needs support from plenty of traditional marketing efforts.
  4. The organisational & infrastructure-readiness of the organisation is a key factor.
  5. A need for internal business processes to backup the new business models

Sting like a bee
There are also several challenges in e-commerce, he said:

  1. The challenge of e-commerce is not a technical one, but a business one.
  2. Companies first need to decide, why and what they want to achieve, which customer segment they want to target.
  3. The e-commerce strategy and the resulting online presence needs to be driven by the business people, and not the IT.

There also needs to be rapid reactiong through immediate response, said Shaumann. The Internet moves fast, and every web site competes against every other in the world. The marketing and sales organisation need to be able to control and change the web content at any time - new content needs to be online immediately to 'counter-attack' the competition.

This means that the web site must totally seperate the technical implementation from the content, he pointed out.

Treat it like king
There's really more behind a site than just what you see, observed Shaumann. Administrative pages, a restructured business process, and dedicated staff were amongst the elements listed. Shaumann estimated a factor of 1 to 8 - for every page the user sees, there are 8 people involved.

Content, he said, is added, updated, withdrawn on a daily basis. All content should be dated and thus the site stays current. Outdated content should be kept out of view.

Shaumann listed some of the factors that attract users:

  1. Information that brings an advantage.
  2. Information that is entertaining
  3. Information that allows people to save money
  4. Content that educates the user

Schaumann noted that there were unique ways to attract people, such as online games, quizzes, and lucky draws, but the clincher came from traditional marketing which creates awareness for the site and pulls in traffic.

Companies should expect to spend (per year) at least the same amount as the development effort for the web site, said Schaumann. He cautioned against expecting sites to pull in their own traffic, also encouraging the exploration of both new and traditional marketing channels such as print ads, radio and television broadcasts, as well as flyers.

Customers that complain, really care

Companies should also provide staff dedicated to handling customer questions and complaints, of which there would be many, he added. Schaumann pointed out that complaining customers should be seen as an asset as they care enough to complain, rather than just move on to the competition.

A new process
There needs to be fast approval process for online policies and process changes, Schaumann said, because business that comes in through the web site may not need to go through the traditional processes.

"The business people who run the website need to have immediately access to whoever makes decisions," he stated.

In summary, Schaumann repeated his keypoints for success:

  1. The site should be managed by a creative marketing and sales team.
  2. The content should update frequently and be attractive.
  3. Traditional marketing efforts need to provide plentiful support.
  4. There needs to be online business processes to back up the new business models.

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