I was recently invited to join a DM Radio session with Information Management called “Function Over Form: The Evolution of Web Site Design”. Definitely an interesting topic to discuss as the notion of a Web Site came to a definition in the 90s as the rise of the Internet helped bring a new stage in promoting companies and services. Now as I looked at the generally accepted definition of Website on the Wiki, it states “A website (or web site) is a collection of related webpages (or web pages), images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed with a common domain name or IP address in an Internet Protocol-based network.” An interesting definition for what has now become a critical component of one’s business that is more than just a collection of pages or marketing of one’s services.
In fact as you look across the Internet you see that organizations have transitioned to actually operating their business from marketing, sales, commerce, contact center, supply chain, accounting and other business processes and supporting applications and services. Beyond this is that organizations have constructed business to business operations that interoperate with applications that are rented through software as a service (SaaS) and cloud computing efforts. All of this is much more than pages on a website but the direct operations of their organizations directly on the Internet like that seen in the service and supply chain optimization priorities. A significant transition over the last decade has changed the shape of websites but also the required leadership and accountability required to be successful. Now as an entire business needs to operate on the Internet the responsibility for business and IT executive’s leadership and involvement is essential for success.
Why is this important issue today? The efficiency of an organizations business processes demand the same level of efficiency as found inside of the enterprise as they need to operate on the Internet. More importantly is the results of these processes are critical for overall business performance and profitability. Many organizations have found that the customer experience is leading indicator to profitability and reputation of one’s brand is assessed on the interaction across the Internet to a specific business-site. Even expanding on this is that the advancement of business mobility as I indicated is a top priority and demanded expectation of consumer’s today. This is no easy task as the shape and form of accessing applications, information and services over the mobile devices have significant differences that must be rationalized. If your organization is depending on web developers to update your pages and post content and has the responsibility of your website as part of marketing then you are still operating in the 90’s. Thought marketing plays a key role as they need better intelligence into their operations from understanding visitor traffic to developing sales ready leads like that found in new generation of marketing automation platforms like that found from Marketbright.

The necessity of operating your organization over the Internet is something that the COO and CIO must take leadership and be supported by the CFO. It will require new strategies to leverage information technology that has been developed and brought to market in the last couple of years. Some of these applications and services will operate virtually over the Internet and be transparent to your customer and others will operate as part of your enterprise applications transition to becoming Internet applications.
This transition to Internet applications is beginning to be seen at SAP that I wrote about at Sapphire where they demonstrated a consumer to business application for the automobile insurance industry. Just as enterprise portals came to deliver a framework of applications, information and services in your organization, the need to deliver this set of requirements on the Internet for your customers is an important step forward. I recently wrote about the emergence of Information Applications that play a key role in making it easier for anyone to get information from your organization anywhere and at anytime. All of these advancements are critical to assess and find how to integrate as it is not a smart step to custom build your entire business through application development just as you would not do that inside of your business today.
Frankly the sooner that we all stop the discussion about websites and instead focus on creating a full service organization on the Internet from front to back office that integrates with the enterprise, the more efficient we will become in improving the industry. This is a critical juncture for organizations to acknowledge and to develop new strategies because if they do not, customers will stop interacting with your organization that will also not be able to scale and meet the transition that has happened in conducting full service business over the Internet.