Using all of the Web capabilities
Keith Anderson, president of Trinity Applied Internet in Reno, says he is surprised by the number of business clients who are enthusiastic users of one facet or another of the Internet, but have given little thought to other ways they can use it in their operations.
He breaks down the uses of Internet as a business tool into five categories:
Teamwork: The Internet is a powerful tool for allowing teams to work together collaboratively and communicate better. Think of the way your staff, customers and vendors communicate with e-mail. But that’s only a starter. What cloud-based software to improve management of customer relationships? Voice-over-Internet Protocol for calling?
Sales generation: A well-designed Web site can help your business generate sales leads — whether it’s an industrial customer placing an order for another gross of widgets or a restaurant patron who decides to come your place for dinner after reviewing the menu online. If it’s a simple system, say an e-mail link where users can request more information, Anderson says it’s important that someone in the business is assigned to check and follow through. Surprisingly often, that doesn’t happen.
Marketing: This one, Anderson said, is often misunderstood. “It is not marketing by itself,” he says. “It doesn’t create the brand. It doesn’t create the message.” But once the brand and message are in place, the Internet is powerful platform to deliver the message.
Support of existing customers: An effective Web site provides a way for existing customers to interact with your business. The interaction may be a highly sophisticated application that allows your subcontracting company to tie directly into some of the information on the site of a general contractor. Or it may be as simple as an e-mail link that allows customers to ask questions. A critical element, Anderson said, is this: Someone at your company has to monitor the customer responses, providing answers and filling requests.
Order management: E-commerce applications are common on the Web sites of even the smallest retailers. Bigger outfits long have installed complex tools that allow them to track a single order as it moves through a global supply chain onto a local-delivery truck.