Building a Successful Internet Service for Your Business

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Building a website is one of the easiest things in the world, much like desktop publishing with the help of a graphics package and a laser printer. The key to success on the Internet, however, is the development of a web service or an Internet “push” service. 

Why a service and not a site? Because a service is something that gives value to potential customers and business partners. And given the intense competition on the internet, value is probably the only thing that will help your business stand out.

We have all heard the fantastic tales of Amazon and Fedex among other web services that are really winning in online sales. But the harsh truth is, very few businesses (if any) in Kenya stand to make real money online in the near future. But why? If nobody is making money, then what is going on? 

The answers are fairly simple. To make money online today, you need a good product, a competitive price, a unique value proposition fitting the ever-changing internet demographics, good technical understanding, and lots of luck. Oh! And lots of money to advertise your service.

Leveraging Value for Online Success

Companies like Amazon remain an exception as consumers struggle with finding useful things on the internet. Why? Because value is one of their biggest selling points. In fact, Amazon’s algorithm used in pairing customers with products is believed to be better than Google’s own algorithm.

This does not mean that other companies should give up and stop investing online. On the contrary, it is imperative that companies invest and develop capabilities that will enable them to operate and compete in the internet dimension. However, the best that most companies can hope for in the future is a reduction in the cost of doing business online.

But why the Internet? And is any of this different from what was happening before? At a fundamental level, leveraging the internet is no different from any other business channel or medium. It requires the same amount of common sense and should not be treated any differently to business as usual. 

There are however two problems which can complicate things. The first problem is that everyone can see what you do on the internet – although most never will. The second problem is that the internet technology can become intertwined with the business, the products, and its marketing.

So how do the pieces fit together? Armies of vendors, telecommunications companies, ISPs, web developers, directory providers, ad agencies, security consultants, marketing consultants, and hype merchants are besieging enterprises looking for internet access, intranet connectivity, and multimedia content. Decision making on the internet and intranet issues is up for grabs with different corporate managers vying for control. 

So What’s the Answer to Making it Online?

Internet marketers are continuously developing and scrapping strategies, business models and business cases with little or no supporting data. Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets here. Traditional thinking and analysis are no longer appropriate. 

For online businesses to succeed online, they will need to exploit short-term opportunities through the availability of capabilities, keeping their finger on the pulse of internet market activities, making a few mistakes and learning continuously. They will need to build new relationships with often obscure and unrelated content developers. Obviously, some changes will whilst integrating the Internet into their traditional businesses will disrupt service delivery and that’s okay. The transition effects are expected. Successful companies will pull the pieces together.

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