Positioning Business on the Internet

Tony Smith, Meme Media, PICA Pty Ltd

The objective of this workshop is to help you to think a little more clearly about a couple of frequently asked questions:
While you have probably come here with one or other, but not both, of these questions upper most in your mind; I intend that the simultaneous pursuit of both questions in this session will help you find the answers to whichever of those questions you came here with, and to any new questions you may leave with.

This session will look at the issues of Positioning Business on the Interent in five steps:

The context of this presentation

Using the World Wide Web to promote your business

For those of us who had been trying to implement a vision of the future in which digital information services play an important role, graphical browsers for the World Wide Web suddenly solved the "chicken and egg" problem during 1994. Put simply, the great barrier to all those who had envisaged the potential of such information services was getting enough content to attract enough users to justify keeping that content current. Following the release of NCSA Mosaic (and Al Gore's "Information Superhighway" address) in late 1993, vast numbers of individuals saw the Web as a medium for publishing their "stories" and efficiently reaching a target audience.

While the Web had been envisaged as a means to access the vast amounts of information already on the Net in various forms, it's big attraction was how easy it made it to add to that material ... attractively. The initial stages were driven by post-graduate students, cloistered researchers and academics, however it did not take long for those in more mainstream activities to catch on. Early exploiters came from education, the information technology industry, and the graphic arts fraternity.

Using e-mail and more to improve your business operations

To operate effectively as business communications move increasingly to the Internet, it becomes essential to become familiar and comfortable with the facilities and styles of the new media. These may rapidly become essential for dealings with your clients, suppliers and partners. They may provide you with efficiency gains in specific areas. And they may provide the opportunity for you to reinvent your business information and communications.

Using the Internet for actual delivery of business services

Those who already had an established position in the information business before the Internet explosion have been amongst the most cautious in exploiting its potential. They have been burdened with a bottom line requirement to protect their income stream and/or with the problems of converting "legacy systems" to the new open systems world.

Getting into the business of providing Internet services

During 1995 an increasing number of my associates came to me for help because they wanted to "get into the Internet business." Two years earlier that was exactly what I had been telling many of them that they should do. The problem they and I faced was that in those two years the prospects for getting into the Internet business had changed dramatically. To help them put their wishes into context I produced a short paper, Internet Business, which identified and discussed a categorisation of fourteen common Internet Business activities. (An alternate view of Commercial Scenarios for the Web has been presented by Hoffman, Novak and Chatterjee.)

Even as my paper was being written, a few of those fourteen areas were starting to subdivide, and in the intervening four months many things have become clearer. Possibly the most significant change is that the prospect of cable modems and other forms of better than HDTV quality connection to the masses in 1997 no longer appear to mark the end of the Access Provider business, but rather a great opportunity for increasing the value added by Internet access providers. I will leave you with pointers to my original paper which you may browse at your leisure, and use this part of the tutorial to show you examples of most of the categories.

Getting a real feel for the Internet and where it might take you

Throughout this tutorial, I have consciously taken the Net and the Web for granted. It is certainly not my objective in these closing minutes to belatedly introduce you to the very things we have been using freely for more that an hour. Rather, I want to wrap up with a few pointers to help you think more clearly about the Internet while you consider how you should use it to position your business.

The first thing you need to understand is that the Internet is a whole lot of things, and that it is growing and reinventing itself at an astonishing rate with no sign of an horizon.

Things that happen on the Internet can change the physical world (camera demo)