Of course there is no absolutely right or
wrong time to do anything. That depends on the individual
situation of a company or a market. But there are, at this
time, particularly favorable circumstances. When many are
confused, hesitant or disappointed (or still pushing in the
wrong direction) there are greater opportunities for an
effective and well-planned use of the internet.
The first move is to get rid of myths and misconceptions.
A few years ago the risk was in the hype the hasty race for
quick-and-easy money. Now its the opposite. Too much crying
about spilt milk, too many excuses for the failure of poorly
conceived strategies. Of course there is no general weakening
of the internet. The net continues to grow quite healthily
(see the data section on this site.)
The time has come to forget the catchwords, the techno
mystiques, the silly theories (as in the case of the
free or pay nonsense.)
To look for clear, simple and practical solutions.
Online (as off) things work quite well when they are
soundly planned and carefully developed. When they dont
work, thats because they are poorly conceived. Its useless
to fix details, increase pressure or muddle with tactics.
Its much more effective (and less expensive) to go back
to the drawing board and re-define strategies and objectives.
With the added advantage that the internet is particularly
suited for testing, experimenting, adjusting and improving
along the way. The concept is simple. Practical development
isnt difficult but it takes time, patience and care.
Of course specific solutions cant be discussed in a
short article. Even in a 300 page book
I couldnt do more than try to define the principles and
the criteria. Each individual case needs to be planned and
developed specifically. I dont believe in oversimplified
how to lists. But a few of the most relevant
concepts can be summarized in ten points.
Except for a few organizations, that operate
only online, the net is not an exclusive or
separate tool. It can be used in many different ways, that
work better when they are in synergy with each other and with
all of the companys activities.
Tactics, on their own, lead to nowhere. Online, as in
any other endeavor, tactical boosters are effective when they
are in line with sound and lasting strategies.
There are no good for all solutions or
standard prescriptions. Each specific case has its own
identity and individual, distinctive nature. Only tailored
plans are really effective.
There is no hurry. (See Is hasty
really fast?) Online (even more so than in other situations)
the winning solutions are based on medium or long
term strategies and gradual development.
Imitation is the fastest road to defeat. Its useful to
learn from the experience of others (especially from their
mistakes) but the strongest asset is diversity. Its
important to concentrate on what is unique what a company
knows, and can do, better than any other. Difference is the
strongest competitive tool.
Effective solutions dont start with only one sector
(e.g. sales.) When several different network resources, in
different relationships, are used together the system is much
more effective and harder for competitors to imitate.
It is not reasonable, or effective, to invest too much
up front or to spend money too soon on technologies.
The choice of technical resources is a result, not a
prerequisite, of strategies and practical experience.
A website isnt the starting point. It isnt necessary
in all cases. When it is, its much more effective if it comes after
strategies, objectives and execution plans are clearly defined.
I cant think of a company that cant use the net
effectively in one way or another. But it isnt
compulsory. Its much better to wait and think
carefully than to go online just to be there.
Above all... whats needed is a strong dose of common
sense, nurtured with patience and consistency. The net isnt
a separate world. What a company knows about itself and its
environment about strategy, organization, relationships,
communication and service is the basic ground from which
healthy projects can be grown. Online or off.