Three Clicks Away: Advice from the Trenches of eCommerce / Edition 1

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Overview

High marks for THREE CLICKS AWAY

"Three Clicks Away contains critical information for both new and experienced web managers. Topics as far ranging as creating an effective strategy, staffing, organizing projects, launching an e-commerce site, and managing for growth and scale are all covered intelligently and accurately. This book should be read by any manager whose business relies on the Internet."-Jonathan Seelig, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development and cofounder, Akamai Technologies

"Impressive. There are so many books out there that try to speak intelligently on the new economy and how the Internet is changing traditional business, but few are as comprehensive as Three Clicks Away."-Ronald Lamprecht, Manager, Business Development, CNBC.com

"I found this to be an interesting, authentic, and enjoyable account of the way ebusiness gets done."-Damian Manning, Vice President, Digital Media, The MTVi Group

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Drapkin, founder of a business technology and e-commerce consultancy, shows how to develop an e-commerce strategy, revamp an organization to support e-commerce initiatives, and manage multidisciplinary projects. He describes how powerful web companies operate and what their people do, and explores different types of e-commerce business models and guidelines for moving businesses to the Web. He tells how to avoid common staffing mistakes and get the most from employees, and how to manage growth and build organizational structures. Includes real-world examples from well-known businesses. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471396826
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/9/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

MICHAEL DRAPKIN is the founder and Principal of Drapkin Technology Corp., a business technology and e-commerce consultancy with clients that include Reader's Digest, Banker's Trust, United Parcel Service, IBM, and Mt. Sinai Hospital, among others. Drapkin has previously published two books.
JON LOWY is Director of Internet Architecture for Deutsche Bank's online investment banking division, eGCI, which is charged with developing online trading and research systems for retail and institutional clients on a worldwide basis. Prior to this position, he was Chief eCommerce Architect for Gateway. Lowy is a founder and the architect of Softwax.com, a web-based peer-to-peer system that allows communities of users to share files safely and conveniently.
DANIEL MAROVITZ is the Director of Internet Strategy for Deutsche Bank. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Marovitz held positions at Dow Jones and Gateway. He worked directly with the president of Gateway to establish the company's website and intranet. Marovitz also worked for iVillage as their vice president of commerce.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Formulating an Online Strategy

When your boss pats you on the back and says, "Congratulations! You are now head of our icommerce-I mean, e-commerce-initiative. I know how you love that PC thing on your desk," this is where you turn. This chapter will help you break down the rather ominous task of starting to drive your company's e-commerce effort: how to get an initiative going, how to avoid boiling the ocean the first time out, how to have a big strategic vision but shoot for tactical achievement.

Epanic. That is what we call it. Epanic takes over when an organization suddenly realizes that it is up the proverbial creek without the proverbial paddle, and the proverbial spring deluge of e-commerce competition is coming downstream with the force of a Godzilla-induced tsunami. The urge is to get online-fast! Build. Get "something" up. Converts are always the most zealous practitioners of their newfound faith, and in no case is that more true than with executives who have seen the "dot-com" light. They tend to become evangelists for e-commerce.

The ensuing epanic usually introduces an expensive consulting firm that doesn't know much, an e-commerce czar who is ill-prepared for the task, and vocal senior people who spend a lot of time disagreeing on how the company's website should "look."

It is best to avoid all the above, and it is not monumentally hard to do so. Even if the people in your organization are not familiar with the Internet, there are ways to address your move into the online world without generating lots of unnecessary effort and disappearing dollars. But move fast and keep your chin up. Large organizations in particular have huge momentum toward the scenario outlined above. It is not the scenario you want to experience firsthand.

Let's first examine the three basic stages that businesses pass through on their way to e-commerce nirvana-or at least to having a meaningful, commercially sound web presence:

1. Process improvement.

2. Electrification.

3. New paradigms.

It is best to start with the easy stuff. Process improvements-ways to get your company's feet wet by using the new technologies-will make existing business processes work better, without trying to go too far too fast. Sophisticated transactional websites are not inexpensive, easy, or quick to build. In almost every business, there will eventually be a need to do more sophisticated things, but, for several reasons, we advise starting small. If you are just starting out, you probably don't have access to an in-house web development staff. Instead, you plan to outsource the development of whatever you aim to do. As we continually repeat throughout this book, outsourcers must be managed. Generally, good business practices and skills will get you somewhere, but, at the end of the day, you need to understand something about what your contractors are doing if you hope to get the best work out of them.

The same goes for managing employees. It sounds like an obvious statement but people often forget it when the Internet is involved. There is a sense that "practitioners" of the Internet (a.k.a. techies-those strange, highly paid twenty-somethings) are some form of modern-day alchemists. They manage an arcane art-making websites-and you need to just let them do what they do and not worry about it. Be glad you have one (or more) in your organization.

As is true in every other part of your business, knowledge is power, and knowing more will help you ensure success. Being nontechnical is OK to a point, but understanding the fundamental principles of how technology operates and how programming works is an unfortunate prerequisite for managing websites effectively.

There is an inescapable Catch-22 for businesspeople who are new to the Internet and need to formulate an online strategy. Success on the Internet demands that you strategize and plan before you start building. (Reverse that order and disastrous results always follow.) Yet, to formulate a comprehensive strategy, you need to understand the realm of the possible and the implications of development. The best way to learn what is really deliverable and manageable in the web space is to manage the construction of a site. The best way to ensure the success of a development project is to have a strong strategic vision . . . you get the idea. This leads us to a critical point about formulating strategic and organizational formulas for successful management of websites: Technologists need to sit in at strategy meetings.

If technologists are ordered to execute a business vision without having been included in its formulation, opportunities will invariably be missed. If you are very new to the Internet, try to connect yourself to a strong technology person when you are deciding what you want to attempt online. The issue is that, like you, people who are beginning an e-commerce career often make incorrect assumptions about the time, cost, and difficulty of doing things online. Some things that might appear very sexy and out of your league may be technically rather trivial to implement. Conversely-and unfortunately, far more likely-the functions that you see on big consumer sites are difficult to achieve and beyond your organization's resources.

Online strategy and development is a process of give and take. Sometimes the "business" side drives a vision and the technologists are pushed to make it a reality. At other times that are rather different from the flow of traditional business, technologists will have an insight or an innovation that enables business functionality, or even whole businesses that were not possible before. We will discuss this concept, and the roles and structures that help promote these idea exchanges, in later sections.

The best strategic advice is to take as much time as your competitive environment will allow. Learn and grow your skills, comfort, and experience with web technology before you lock your strategy...

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Table of Contents

Foreword.

Introduction.

STRATEGY.

Formulating an Online Strategy.

Understanding the Web Landscape.

Advertising on the Web.

ORGANIZATION.

Staffing.

Web Roles.

Starting a Start-Up.

Growing Your E-Commerce Organization.

Outside Resources.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Project Organization.

Specification.

Development to Launch and Beyond.

Notes.

Glossary.

Index.

About the Authors.

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