Websites & Technology
IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE that business once operated effectively and efficiently with typewriters, rotary telephones, pencils and erasers.Today, however, computers, email, websites and countless shapes and sizes of wireless devices have all become industry "standards."
The magic in all of these technologies, in business terms, comes from understanding their potential and exploiting them to their fullest. It’s about finding ways to make them enhance corporate value and deliver reasonable returns on investment. It starts with a few basic ideas:
- Websites can become the focal point, and underlying infrastructure, for your business.
- A well designed website enhances credibility and conveys professionalism.
- Internet-based technologies can be tailored to support, qualify and quantify specific business functions.
- Internet-based technologies create efficiencies, generate revenue and facilitate growth.
- As an electronic tool, websites are not limited by time or place.
- Websites are only as good as the people that build, manage and maintain them.
- You get what you pay for.
Be prepared. It’s important to have a well-defined business objective, a clear picture of how your company operates (both internally and externally) and a manageable budget before you start planning an online strategy. There’s no point in pursuing technology, developing new systems and implementing change if you haven’t done your homework and set realistic goals.
Once you have a clear idea of what you expect from a website, it can be tailored to suit specific organizational, departmental and/or individual needs. Of course, the degree of customization impacts directly upon cost. This is when a fully defined budget becomes important. In addition, and based on recent experience, there are issues relating to ownership, including copyright and intellectual property, which are often left undefined and legally unresolved. Along with marketing and technical support, legal counsel is an important part of this process.
Websites are portals. There’s really no limit, other than imagination and budget, to what degree a website can be used to help you effectively and efficiently operate and grow your business.
One of the best aspects of interactive technologies is that they can be developed, implemented and maintained from a central location while the organization and its operatives are active throughout a variety of locations. In other words, both internal and external staff operating throughout the country (or the world), can view, retrieve and submit data. As long as there’s internet access, and with just about any computer or PDA, tablet or smartphone, you can have secure access to company information from a myriad of locations including airports, tradeshows, hotel rooms and conference sites.
Additionally, internet-based technologies are no longer the domain of sales and marketing professionals alone. They are frequently linked to business support and operational departments - from supply chain management and inventory control to finance and human relations. What's clear is that websites offer the flexibility to become “windows” to every aspect of your operation.
Websites are an extension of your brand. The web has become the go-to resource for due diligence, regardless of product or service. When you acknowledge that buyers are craving convenience, coupled with the way business relationships are developed and transactions are made, it’s easy to understand how websites have become influential marketing tools and dynamic sales environments.
Recognizing that tracking can be quite involved, there are numerous solutions that will help you gain valuable insights about visitor activity and website productivity. With the right tools, you can identify links and/or search terms, quantify visitor activity, and gain insights regarding visitor trends and agendas.
Now that you have some idea of what can be accomplished with websites and the internet, here’s a short list of things to consider:
- Have a clear picture of what you want to achieve. There’s no sense in making investments if the need is not fully defined.
- Establish a budget. It’s important to roll out technology, as with any other business expenditure, in a manner that is prioritized, appropriately funded and provides meaningful financial returns.
- Pursue quality. The effectiveness of technology is directly related to the level of training and experience your services provider has to offer. Make sure there’s a proven track record before you hire a web development company or technology consultant. It’s not uncommon for companies to invest in technologies that are poorly planned or fail to perform. You’ll get what you pay for.