e-Strategy, Pure & Simple: Connecting Your Internet Strategy to Your Business Strategy


Senior managers know that the Internet demands new business strategies. But for many of these executives, much about the Internet and e-commerce remains enigmatic. This important new book by strategy guru Michel Robert demystifies the Internet for executives and provides a comprehensive framework for developing Internet strategies that dovetail with an organization's overall business strategy. Based on Robert's two decades of research and international consulting experience at more than 400 companies, the ...
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Senior managers know that the Internet demands new business strategies. But for many of these executives, much about the Internet and e-commerce remains enigmatic. This important new book by strategy guru Michel Robert demystifies the Internet for executives and provides a comprehensive framework for developing Internet strategies that dovetail with an organization's overall business strategy. Based on Robert's two decades of research and international consulting experience at more than 400 companies, the e-strategy model described comprises 10 e-drivers, corresponding to 10 key business strategies. These include: demand aggregation for obtaining better prices; build-to-order services that allow customers to configure products to their specifications; customer self-service; direct customer access for manufacturers; dynamic pricing; and others. Using many real-life examples, Robert describes how each e-driver works and how to combine them in a coherent strategy for making optimal use of today's most powerful strategic tool, the Internet.

The fact that the Internet has become today's most powerful strategic tool is old news to executives. What is new to many, however, is understanding the capabilities that the Internet brings and how they can best be utilized. And e-commerce is changing the rules every day­­assets may now be liabilities, brand loyalty is no longer an advantage­­making it even tougher for brick-and-mortar companies to assess the impact the Internet will have on their business and develop strategies for survival in the new economy.

e-Strategy Pure and Simple demystifies the Internet, providing a comprehensive framework for developing Internet strategies that dovetail with an organization's overall business strategy. Leading strategy experts Michel Robert and Bernard Racine show you how to break free of the constraints of the traditional business model and adopt e-commerce practices that will help you add value to your products and services, enhance your customer relationships, and keep pace with­­or step ahead of­­your competition in the Internet arena.

Based on two decades of research and international consulting experience at more than 400 companies, the e-strategy model comprises numerous e-nablers that correspond to key business strategies, including:

  • Demand aggregation for obtaining better prices
  • Customer self-service
  • Direct customer access for manufacturers
  • Build-to-order services that allow customers to configure products to their specifications
  • Dynamic pricing

Using real-life examples and interviews with CEOs from a variety of industries, the authors describe how each e-nabler works and offer ways you can combine them to make optimal use of the Internet.

This important resource reveals how you can employ strategic thinking in order to integrate the business and Internet strategy processes. You'll get sure-fire tips and expert advice on ways to:

  • Overcome "strategic fuzziness" to formulate and deploy a successful business strategy
  • Stand toe-to-toe with the "killer.coms" that can put business models of dominant enterprises into jeopardy overnight
  • Identify the critical issues you need to manage and resolve in order to make your strategy viable
  • Change the rules of play to your favor with the e-Strategy process
  • Envision the future for your organization and utilize your resources appropriately to get there

The e-Business revolution is here to stay­­will you be able to say the same about your company in the next five or ten years? Get e-Strategy Pure and Simple­­and secure your position in the marketplace before the competition clicks you out of existence.

Leverage the Internet as a strategic weapon!

To ensure longevity in the new economy, your company needs more than a successful business strategy­­it also needs a coherent Internet strategy. But many executives have yet to grasp the tremendous opportunities of the Internet and realize their company's necessary transformation into a true e-business.

Now, two leading strategy experts provide a blueprint to their new e-strategy business model­­designed to help you clarify your business strategy and develop an Internet strategy that supports it. Featuring real-life examples and advice from CEOs in various industries on how to adopt strategic thinking, e-Strategy Pure and Simple delivers the tools you need to:

  • Determine what role the Internet should play in your business strategy
  • Ascertain your company's strategy quotients and the work necessary to achieve your goals
  • Identify the driving force of your business and build your e-strategy around it
  • Connect with customers and meet their needs in Internet time
  • Envision the future business arena and anticipate change
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071371780
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 12/13/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 173
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Ultimate E-Nigma.
Chapter 2. Strategic Fuzziness.
Chapter 3. Strategic Fuzziness (2).
Chapter 4. A CEO's Worst Nightmare: Killer.Com.
Chapter 5. Back to the Future.
Chapter 6. The First Imperative: Clarifying the Business Strategy.
Chapter 7. Demystifying the E-Nigma.
Chapter 8. The Critical Gap: No E-Strategy Architect.
Chapter 9. The Second Imperative: constructing the e-Strategy.
Chapter 10. The Third Imperative: Integrating the Business Strategy and Internet Strategy Processes.
Chapter 11. The Tangible and Intangible Results.
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First Chapter

The Ultimate E-Nigma

No change represents as large a challenge to every chief executive officer (CEO) now and in the years to come as the Internet. Because of the intangibility of the Internet, it is difficult for most executives to "get their arms around it." They can't see it, they can't touch it, and they have no experience with it or anything like it. As a result, most executives have great difficulty assessing the impact the Internet will have on their businesses. It's an unknown, and unknowns can be unsettling. There are very good reasons for this malaise.


In 1999 close to 50 percent of the capital investments in this country were made for information technology, or IT, as it is referred to in the vernacular. This number is projected to increase 10 to 15 percent per year for the next several years. This represents an enormous shift in the country's resources away from the traditional investment in so-called bricks and mortar and to IT. This shift is creating what has become known as the new economy. We are swiftly becoming a "wired" economy which is moving rapidly from "bricks" to "clicks."

The cause of this increasing dependency on IT is the Internet. Here are some statistics that demonstrate the rapidly growing influence of the Internet on businesses and consumers. In the last five years, the dollar amount of transactions conducted on the Internet jumped from a negligible sum to over $1.3 trillion, and this number is projected to increase at a double-digit pace for several years. To date, 80 percent of these transactions are business-to-business (B2B) and only 20 percent are business-to-consumer (B2C). The B2C portion, however, is projected to increase significantly, as the following charts indicate.


Let's go back in time to 1885-1886, when the first automobile was introduced. Who then could have foreseen the advent of concepts such as car insurance, autobahns, parking lots, drive-in restaurants, banks and theaters, and laser-read toll systems? The answer is simple: Probably no one. The reason? These concepts were so foreign to most people's modus operandi that they had great difficulty adapting their thinking to accommodate them. In fact, people could hardly bring themselves to give the automobile a name. At first they called it a horseless carriage because it was the first carriage that did not need to be pulled by animals or humans The best they could do was name it an automobile, which literally means "self-moving," not a terribly mesmerizing description.

Now let's examine the year 2000 and the Internet, a concept as alien to today's executive as the horseless carriage was to the owner of the local buggy whip factory. Just as the automobile paralyzed the buggy whip factory owner from doing anything about the automobile because of its "alienness," the Internet is paralyzing today's CEO. And there are good reasons for this as well.


Let's draw some mental pictures. Imagine a landscape with its profile of mountains, valleys, lakes, canyons, and volcanoes, all of which have been shaped by nature's forces-wind, rain, gases, and so on-in that environment. Now imagine a modern city sprouting on this landscape with a host of small, medium, and large buildings, all interconnected by a road and rail system. A business operates in a similar manner. It also has a profile consisting of products, customers, and markets which have been shaped by all the market forces-competitive, economic, political, technological-at work in this business arena or environment. Similar to a city sprouting from a landscape, what emerges from a "business arena" is a business model which is put into place to deploy the business strategy of an enterprise.

Furthermore, just as the natural terrain surrounding a city puts physical constraints on that city's activities, the business "terrain" in which a company finds itself imposes constraints on that company, and those constraints obviously vary from one geographic area to another.


Let's draw another picture. Imagine now that the sea level rose 50 feet around the globe. Most cities on the planet would be flooded to one degree or another, and the landscape would become a seascape.

The tallest buildings would no longer be connected by intricate and restrictive road and rail systems but could be served by an uncluttered and unrestricted flat, open surface water system. Each building could be reached from any other building at any time of the day, over water.


In this new environment, landscape "business practices" are now irrelevant and need to change drastically to accommodate the new seascape environment. Consider the following changes:

  • Speedboats can replace slow-moving trucks and trains.
  • Tollbooths are useless on water.

Competitors who previously could challenge you only over land now can do so in a different manner, or you could be attacked by new, unpredictable pirate ships.

Among the rules the Internet has changed are the following:

  • The traditional value chain has been disrupted.
  • Assets may now be liabilities.
  • Brand loyalty is no longer an advantage.
  • Service may no longer be a differentiator.
  • A captive market has been unshackled and given numerous options.
  • A customer's switching costs have been reduced significantly.
  • Information is virtually "free," thus spreading like a virus and making customers much more knowledgeable.
  • Pricing matches minute-to-minute market conditions.
  • On-line demand drives production.

And there have been many more changes. The message is that each rule change helps make the Internet an e-nigma. This new e-business model is conceptually alien to the executives of a business rooted in the traditional business model of bricks and mortar. Furthermore, the Internet has unshackled new competitors from the constraints of the traditional business model and introduced business practices that are also alien to these executives.

Traditional relationships between suppliers, producers, distributors, and customers have been turned upside down and inside out, and the new relationships are difficult to comprehend. In other words, the sandbox is getting more and more e-nigmatic.


The human being's instinctive reaction to something that is unfamiliar or unknown manifests itself in one of two modes: denial or paranoia. In our view, the CEO population is currently split 50/50.

Denial is also called the ostrich reaction: Put your head in the sand and hope the event passes by. Many CEOs are doing just that. They are avoiding the Internet, hoping that it will be another fad that will pass just like the many other management fads they have seen come and go.

Paranoia characterizes a person who sees ghosts all over the place. Therefore, let's do everything and anything we can think of.


The "flood" that today is putting in jeopardy the traditional business model actually started 30 years ago with the advent of IT systems in the back office, which then migrated to the front office and now has moved into over a billion homes in only a few years. It has been well documented that a new technology becomes "institutionalized" when it reaches a critical mass of 30 million consumers. One billion users is way past the critical mass required and well beyond the inflection point where a new technology starts to accelerate its impact on society. Nothing will stop this migration, and that means that denial will not solve the e-nigma.

Paranoia is not the solution either. The reason for this is simple. The Internet will not intrude on every part of your current business model, but it will infringe on many nooks and crannies of that model. To anticipate where those points of impact will be, one needs to understand the capabilities the Internet brings and how they will be used by your competitors and how they could be used by your company.

However, before attempting to understand the Internet and its various capabilities, one needs to understand the business strategy of the enterprise. Unless the business strategy is clear and unambiguous, it will be difficult to determine the role the Internet should play.


The advent of the Internet should cause two questions to make their way to the top of a CEO's list of priorities:

1. Is our business strategy Internet-ready?
2. Do we have a coherent Internet strategy that supports our business strategy?

The future of every company today rests with an affirmative answer to both questions. Unfortunately, experience indicates that very few companies could confidently answer yes to either of those questions, much less both. In fact, experience shows that most companies would answer no to the second question and no or, at best, maybe to the first.

Not only would most companies reply that their business strategy is not ready for the Internet, many executives would question whether there is a coherent business strategy in place at all. This occurs because many organizations suffer from a malaise we call "strategic fuzziness."

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"I just approved a $10 million dollar Internet project and I have absolutely no idea of what it was all about," said one of our CEO clients to us a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, this is a sentiment shared by many CEOs we have encountered in the last two to three years.

They are approving large sums of money on Internet and IT projects without a clue of what they are getting. The reason is simple. These CEOs are baffled by the sudden emergence of a new variable in their universe, a variable called the Internet. And they are baffled because they simply don't understand the Internet and its implications on their business. When one doesn't understand something, one's decision-making power is paralyzed, which is what is happening to many CEOs.

As a result, they place their fate in the hands of so-called Internet Expert Consultants to develop an Internet Plan for them. This is akin to making the plumber the architect for your new house. You'll end up with a lot of pipes! In business, you'll end up with a lot of unnecessary hardware and software and possibly with an Internet plan that does not support the business strategy of the enterprise.

Our premise is that the CEO and the Executive Team should be the architect of their own Internet strategy which is connected to, and helps deploy, the enterprise's business strategy.

This book contains concepts and a process that demystifies the Internet (in "lay" terms) which then empowers CEOs and their key executives to design their own Internet strategy and thus control their own destiny.

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