The World’s Largest Event Dedicated to e-Business and Internet Technology

Spring Internet World 2000, Los Angeles
By Elaine Morris Palmer, April, 2000

… the world’s largest event dedicated to e-business and Internet technology, kicked off with keynote address by Stephen M. Case, Chairman/CEO, America Online, Inc. now AOL/Time Warner. “Only five years ago,” remarked Case, “there was no talk of the new economy and the letter “e” was only the 5th letter of the alphabet. Now, there are over 800 million web pages and “e” is a massive social and economic transformation.”

Today you can go from zero-to-website in half and hour. Neo-Butler, the Internet companion clues you into better places to surf while it tracks and learns from you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There are meaning-based search engines like Oingo and WebWasher which takes content, like ads (!) out of your downloads. There’s SlangSoft which creates a virtual keyboard in any one of 42 national languages and DigiScents, this century’s version of smellevision!

With talk of ubiquitous wireless communications, one to one, one to many, open source and Linux, bandwidth, customer service, alliances, privacy, and branding, branding, branding, if you’re John Sidgmore, Vice Chairman, MCI WorldCom, strategy-building at 30,000 feet boils down to three principals:

1) supply end to end integrated services,

2) deploy globally (some say there won’t be any purely national brands five years from now) and,

3) remain agile and aggressive.

Down here on earth, what’s clear is the adoption of a more sober approach to revenue modeling and what works best is helping people. Sound simple? The idea of telling people what they want to know, not what you want to tell them, still seems to elude too many web publishers, no matter what business they’re in.

The key decision companies have to make now, emphasizes John Patrick, VP, Internet Technology IBM, Corp., is to think outside-in — embrace the Internet and accommodate the way you’ve always done business before.

Now, only 5% of websites get 95% of the hits. Not necessarily the lowest price, the sexiest graphics or the coolest technology but the ones to give customers a reason to invest in relationships with those companies. With millions of websites now, it’s

unanimous that the conquest of clutter resides in individuation and mass customization.

Peppers + Rogers Group recently did a year’s worth of global research for Bertelsmann Group’s answer to President, Bob Dorf, submits the FTFYOG (Five-Twenty-Five-Year-Olds-in-a-Garage) theory to make his point:  anticipate change because your competitors are working as hard and as fast as you are. Regardless of language, culture or Internet penetration, the first one to the customer relationship wins.

Think for the customer, not about him:

  • Gather information on behalf of your customer that will enhance his/her experience on your site in concert with your relationship, whether or not it’s transactional. This may mean spending money on them indirectly by uprading your back end technology.
  • Focus maniacally on improving customer service, shortening cycle time and intensifying personalization. “Mystery-shop” and make sure the site works in every conceivable situation.
  • Communicate! When conversation becomes consultation people are three times more likely to make a purchase.
  • Trust and privacy are vital. A lot of sites hype privacy but don’t protect it. The Privacy Consortium reports that people are increasingly comfortable giving up information on the Web and demonstrate increased levels of confidence that information will be used for them not against them. Don’t blow it! If you say you’re not selling your customers’ information, don’t.

Take advantage of the collaborative nature of the network through what Forrester Research calls “elastic retailing” or affiliate and partner programs and licensing and leveraging brands.  Your ability to partner is essential to focus on what you do and enable speed. Your brand assets include your partners on and off the Net.

Most importantly, embrace the value of tenured customers — use what you know to service them. The Web is a viral marketing gold mine. Soon, more merchants will offer deals-on-the-fly at the point of other marketers’ transactions and consumer buying decisions will depend solely on the investments in your customers you make now. Create a defensible argument for making you the vendor of choice. It does pay off.

The seers predict a new era of innovation and an explosion of creativity and productivity. One thing they all agree on is that we ain’t’ seen nothin’ yet!

Favorite conference quotes:

Consumers will spend privacy as currency to buy power.”

Jack Powers, Conference Chairman, Internet World.

“Don’t build provocative high-energy interaction into your website unless you can handle it.”                                                   Bob Dorf, President, Peppers + Rogers Group.

“Given there are only two main players in a [brand] category, the Internet is the law of two on steroids. If you’re not first you must be distinctive.”

Bruce Judson, author, HyperWars and NetMarketing.

Elaine Morris Palmer is Principal of E_Commerce Media Communications. She attended over 15 sessions and forums at Spring Internet World to bring you this article.

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