Opportunities in technology

AS we move toward the closure of the 2001 calendar year and contemplate the business environment for the early part of 2002 and through to the end of the financial year, there should emerge a clearer picture of the technology melt-down that characterised 2001 for many shareholders, investors and managers.

Clearly there remains a high level of uncertainty concerning the future course of economic conditions, however the dust will have well and truly settled on the remains of the “tech wreckage” by the New Year. Such clarity should provide some opportunities for astute managers who have clearly defined the role of information technology and e-commerce within their own business model.

For those businesses that have come to find this topic way too difficult, here are a few suggestions for thinking through the role of IT and e-commerce within your own environment.

p The role of IT and e-commerce strategy is to support your sustainable competitive position. Too often this obtuse expenditure category takes on a life of its own, one tranche of costs requiring yet another to complete, and the entire reason for the upgrade or initiative is forgotten in the engineering. Remember that IT and e-commerce must deliver tangible results and definable outcomes, at some level, which support the business strategy. If not, it is most likely a complete waste of money or catch-up expenditure at best. Demand that your IT and e-commerce strategy delivers improved customer service, smoother supplier relationships and heightened b-to-b and b-to-c opportunities, in some meaningful order.

p Avoid e-commerce expenditure that simply replicates an existing core business process. One sure way to add costs and achieve little by way of revenue performance or market standing is to simply accept that “everyone needs a web-site”, or “all our competitors are doing it”. Ensure that your e-commerce strategy adds a whole new layer to your value proposition to the market. In this way, new and exciting business processes will be born and you will stand a chance of actually increasing volume with the lower cost position that should be achievable.

p Subject IT and e-commerce expenditure to stringent performance measurement. Just as you may be prepared to invest costs and capital to stay in the IT and e-commerce game, be prepared to demand that unless key milestones are met, and outcomes delivered, that the tap will be turned off. The project management and capital budgeting disciplines that apply throughout the organisation must apply to IT and e-commerce.

Whether you are using an internal or external team, if you can’t define specific performance outcomes, then at the very minimum demand that implementation milestones are met. If these are too difficult then call a halt to the whole project and go back to the first point above.

Based on these ideas, if you can define the role of information technology and e-commerce for the company, then get on and be pro-active in the New Year. Importantly, don’t delay too long, the next wave of significant IT and e-commerce utilisation is just around the corner.

The writer can be contacted at or through the office at Business News

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