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:
- "How should I use the Internet in my business?"
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
- "How can I get into the Internet business?"
This session will look at the issues of Positioning Business on the Interent
in five steps:
The context of this presentation
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
Using the World Wide Web to promote
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.
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 e-mail and more to improve your
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.
Using the Internet for actual delivery
of business 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.)
Getting into the business of providing
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
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.
Getting a real feel for the Internet
and where it might take you
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