“I had no idea.” This is all too typical a response from a number of clients wanting to engage in a website upgrade. And the shock is not just the cost of the initial outlay but the level of dedicated effort involved in maintaining and managing a web presence. It is not just a “Website” anymore. It is much more. And for those of you who are fully immersed in website business operations, you know the level of commitment and management involved. For those less involved, it takes some degree of acclimation.
In many instances, we see an existing web presence which is outdated and unattended. It ineffectively communicates the services or products provided. Or the site neglects to provide the full level of benefits that can be accrued to business operations. We do not see a commitment to incorporating a web presence into the overall business plan. Instead of being an actively attended store front, or an essential tool in the various business processes, the web functionality is relegated to a secondary duty. It is something everyone wants to have as part of their programs but either cannot afford the level of commitment or choose not to. In either case, the organization is not getting the best value and it may be negatively impacting the business.
For instance, we have a new client who is a growing and successful manufacturing company who builds and sells products worldwide. I was visiting with a senior engineer who had recently returned from a meeting with one of the large aerospace companies. In the course of their discussions, it became apparent the products offered by our client were of great interest to the aerospace industry. Unfortunately, they did not know our client existed nor did they know they were a key source of manufacturing for those types of products. Their comment was “when we searched the web, we did not find you”. Our customer was losing business and this was a shot across the bow.
When information technology first started emerging into the business cycle, it was logically dedicated to the control and management of the CFO, or Accounting Manager. That was because the first effective use of the technology represented itself in crunching the business financial numbers. It has grown from that beginning to incorporate every aspect of business operations. The dynamics have changed to move the IT function from the CFO to the CIO of the organization. Likewise, when websites first started, they were nothing more than a static bulletin board. It has since grown to become a part of the business operations stack and the full face of the business in all respects. In too many instances companies are stuck with a static website and are not making the move to a full web presence, unaware of just how far behind the competition they’re falling.
We are now working with our manufacturing client, to fully define their web presence. This includes helping them set up their strategic and tactical plans and helping them to properly budget for the integration of a comprehensive web functionality. The intent is to provide them the tools they need to reach more customers, provide more services, and to automate a number of their manual business processes that interface with the web. We are helping them acclimate to the costs and commitments needed to be successful in today’s business environment.
Web presence offers an expanded means to multiple ends. And for companies to remain competitive, they need an effective web presence and not just a website.
Travis Rattan is the founder and president of Rattan Consulting. As a Colonel in the US Air Force and a CPA with over 30 years of private and public experience in the information technology industry, Travis brings a business perspective to the IT conversation.