I recently had the opportunity to sit through a meeting in which executives from several old-line North Georgia businesses were discussing what they were doing or going to do about the Internet. Represented were a couple of good-sized manufacturing plants, some retailers, professionals – a pretty good mix of folks. Shortly after, a study came across my desk about national business leader’s attitudes today, as opposed to two years ago, about how the business world plans to use the Internet.
The thing that intrigued me about these two experiences was that local business leaders and national executives had some very similar thoughts. Here’s a summary:
1. The belief ran rampant a few years ago that Internet-based business was going to immediately replace or destroy the old “bricks-and-mortar.” Businesses just don’t happen – using the web as a business tool will be an evolution, not a revolution. Yet, it will move much faster than other technology introductions to the business world.
2. At the same time, any business that is not actively working to find ways to use the Internet to its advantage is running a serious risk of being left behind. More importantly, those companies that are continuing to move into the “e-business mode” are getting a serious jump-start on their competitors. The difficulty is in a smooth transition to new ways of doing business; not throwing away the old and diving headlong into the new.
3. A company can change technology quicker than it can change people. A company that has the latest and best technology does not mean that company’s employees and customers will understand it or use it. And, the fact that America is embracing certain parts of the Internet (e-mail for instance) does not mean they will automatically want to do business with you or even find you at your web site.
4. Many companies entered the Internet world with a very simple web page (still referred to as brochure-ware) which can be done by almost anyone savvy in computer operations. Any company that has not moved several generations beyond brochure-ware is probably getting behind.
5. While most companies are still focusing on the Internet as a marketing tool, as a means of increasing sales, many are also using it to increase efficiency within the company. Commun- ications with customers is getting a lot of attention, as well as communications with suppliers. For manufacturers, real-time communications with suppliers is allowing more outsourcing, for instance.
6. The final impression I got from these two experiences points to the importance of the high-tech initiative being carried out by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. It became very apparent that companies located in communities where technology is a high priority are running ahead of those where technology is being ignored.
The high-tech world, and especially the Internet, may not be capturing the business world as rapidly as we once imagined, but it is a reality that must be dealt with by everybody in business. And creating a community which is a leader in the high-tech/Internet world will help all businesses in that community.
To participate in the Greater Hall Chamber’s technology initiative, call Shelley Davis,
770-532-6206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.