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Memo to the CEO

The honeymoon period for e-business is over. Today, the spotlight is on execution. Most executives are acutely aware of the need to execute their e-business strategy in order to complement their existing business models. But numerous forces continually undermine the effectiveness of these efforts. It is important to remember the following.

  • Ruthless tactical execution is becoming increasingly essential to business. Rapid technological and market change and shorter product and service life cycles favor companies that excel at implementing forward-looking, immediately deployable strategies. If a project cannot be completed within 6 months, move on to something that can.

  • Provide strong blueprint leadership. Many companies have no central decision maker for their e-commerce initiatives. Worse, this is a difficult position to fill, as it requires business and technical expertise in a variety of areas. In addition, e-business problems are fluid and multidimensional. This is exacerbated by the fact that many companies have multiple, department-level initiatives under way, with no blueprint strategy tying them together. Other firms are so busy making their internal IT systems work that they have little time to focus on how market forces are affecting them.

  • Communicate a clear vision. The goal of e-business is to develop a portfolio of technical and process solutions that support a well-articulated vision of the future. Like the applications that support its achievement, an e-business vision can be developed iteratively and continuously modified and enhanced to ensure success.

  • Pay attention to your application architecture. The e-landscape is littered with corporate failures that paid too little attention to building a foundation for a scalable application infrastructure. These companies failed because they later had to dismantle their systems in order to create a new foundation to support e-business.

  • Recruit the right talent. New applications require new skills. A dynamic e-strategy requires a special blend of talented performers who work together, performing their jobs correctly. Talented performers dislike ambiguous project or corporate objectives. They want tasks that can be measured and evaluated and that provide a concrete sense of achievement. Given the difficulty of retaining top talent, companies need to be creative in their incentive and compensation packages.

  • Pay attention to your development methodology. e-Business development presents a unique set of challenges. Much of the available technology used to design Web applications is immature and changes at an unprecedented rate, with new versions often released quarterly. Your software designers must cope with technology's limitations. These limitations include browser incompatibility across vendors, versions, and platforms; inadequate performance owing to network constraints; and inadequate development tools.

  • Manage adoption carefully. Being continually customer focused means watching customers carefully as they use your product or service. Winning strategies usually embody a revolutionary way of getting feedback from a target market and target customer. Such strategies require clear metrics and measurement. Such strategies can succeed only if there is tightly integrated, sound execution followed by rapid adjustment when unexpected developments occur.


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