In just a few short years, the corporate Web site has gone from being a curiosity to a corporate mainstay. The Web phenomenon has boards of directors and, hence, CEOs asking: What is our e-business strategy, and how are we measuring its business impact? From dot-coms to dyed-in-the-wool brick-and- mortar companies, there is a wide spectrum of response to this question.

Companies developing their e-business strategy on the perilous fault lines of the ever-shifting technology landscape need effective and efficient tools to measure the business impact of their chosen strategy. As reported in the Computer Industry Almanac, 490 million people worldwide will be accessing the Internet by the year 2002. In order for companies to remain viable in the Internet age, they must implement an e-business strategy and keep pace with the increasing demand brought on by their growing global audience.

In a recently completed study of DM Review readers, Market Perspectives Inc. (MPI) found that a 73 percent plurality understand the importance the Web is having on their business and the expectations of their customers.

Figure 1: The Web as a Business Medium

Figure 1 illustrates the breakdown percentages of management and IT professionals who responded to the question regarding their perception of whether customers expect to do business with them over the Web. Figure 2, taken from the same study of DM Review readers, illustrates respondents' top priorities for the year 2000. The MPI study found that most readers are now addressing e-business (88 percent) and e-commerce (63 percent) among their top priorities for 2000. As demonstrated by Figures 1 and 2, companies are forecasting increased customer use of their Web site as a place to do business and responding to the growing demands of this exposure by prioritizing the buildup of their e-business infrastructures.

Figure 2: Top Priorities for 2000

At the current stage of e-business deployment, DM Review respondents in general have recognized the importance of their Web sites to overall business development, and about one-half of respondent organizations have set up some type of organizational structure for the conduct of e-business. However, most respondents are not satisfied with the business impact of their Web site and have not yet applied meaningful measurement techniques to monitor their business performance.

Among the issues explored with DM Review respondents was their satisfaction with different aspects of their Web strategy. Roughly half expressed satisfaction, albeit somewhat tepid satisfaction, with their efforts at building brand awareness (48 percent) and increasing consideration of their products and services (54 percent) among Web site visitors. However, when asked whether their Web site was generating qualified new leads, the satisfaction level dropped off significantly to only one in three expressing satisfaction. Similar responses were received about effectiveness of utilizing their Web site's potential to provide rapid response to high-value visitors. It would seem that beyond showing the corporate flag and providing a convenient source of information, most feel there is considerable room for improvement in effectively engaging new customers.

Among the lowest areas of satisfaction were measuring the impact of marketing programs on Web visitors and the site's ability to hold visitor interest and loyalty. Another interesting analytical observation is that organizations which (in a different part of the survey) rated their business intelligence/data warehousing implementation as being more advanced tended to have more advanced e-business implementations.

In summary, DM Review readers are clearly recognizing the importance of e-business and are developing new organizational structures and processes. However, it can be safely said that they are far from fully satisfied with the business impact of their Web site and have not yet applied measurement techniques to monitor the business performance. Last, but certainly not least, e-business implementation seems to go hand in hand with data warehouse implementation, since so many aspects of e-business are database driven at their heart.

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