Corporate and Business Unit Strategy
Electronic Commerce Practice
Electronic Commerce (EC), the Internet and related information technologies are radically impacting the way firms manage and view their businesses. Intermediaries are threatened when the “information friction” they rely on disappears. Vendors are being linked to information systems that can be much richer than those previously available via EDI and other protocols. The Web is becoming the newest mass media for unique forms of advertising and a versatile information and transaction pipeline. Support services are quickly migrating to the Web as the positive impact on service quality and cost structure becomes more apparent. Intranets using browsers are linking decentralized workers to legacy information systems and data warehouses are being mined to provide optimal target lists based on customer preferences. At the same time that old business functions are migrating to the new medium, new business models are being created out of concepts such as networks and communities. Electronic commerce will have a profound influence on the strategy alternatives open to companies. One firm’s EC opportunity is another firm’s EC threat.
Easton Consultants provides a range of services which help determine the strategic implications of these electronic business changes for our clients. We work with clients who are the agents of change as well as those seeking to incorporate the changes into their evolving business systems.
We offer the following:
- New Electronic Business Development and Planning. We offer a range of services to corporations launching new electronic commerce business units, including development of market and business unit potential estimates, value-added and competitive analyses, and implementation planning.
- New Information Product Potential. By segmenting customers, understanding the needs and characteristics of each segment, and with awareness of potential competitive reaction, new technologies being developed, and implementation plans, Easton will develop estimates of the potential market size.
- Customer / Business Partner Value Analysis. Rolling out a new electronic information or commerce solution to distribution “partners” requires analysis of how well it will meet the partners’ needs. Value analysis also helps determine where implementation barriers may lie and how to optimize product / service development resources.
- Competitive Analysis (with a wide angle lens). Includes scanning for conventional competitors using information technology in new ways, as well as new competitors now able to enter new markets. We also conduct projects focused on identifying “inadvertent” competition.
- Evaluation of Impact of New Information Technologies on Business Strategy. New information technologies can dramatically improve a business unit’s performance. Companies that do not incorporate new technologies into their business systems and strategic plans risk falling far behind competitors. Easton will evaluate this potential risk and suggest ways to utilize new technologies to gain competitive advantage.
Over the past few years Easton has performed many projects with an electronic business or Internet component, including:
- Assessment of the value proposition for vendors to use a new information system. Easton conducted in-person research with dozens of distributors and resellers of a major computer products firm to identify implementation issues for a new comprehensive information system. Easton also determined qualitative and quantitative benefits to vendors, including increased revenue, reduced cost, and other strategic benefits based on models of vendor financial performance.
- Development of a “map” of electronic commerce business opportunities for a large computer hardware / services provider. This comprehensive study sought to forecast future boundaries of strategic business unit developments (e.g., the future of value-added networks). Provision of Internet / EC services were explored , and forecasts were made of likely winners.
- Evaluation of the use of the Web for marketing by retailers and financial service companies. Our client, one of the largest direct mail advertising agencies and a prominent developer of mailing programs for credit card companies, engaged Easton to explore the use of the Internet for direct marketing. We have also counseled our client in seeking alliances with leading database warehouses.
- Competitive threat assessment of Internet-based business services. For our client, the market leader for this business service, Easton scanned Internet developments that could threaten its core business and determined the nature and level of the threat to specific customer segments.
- Strategy and business plan development for an Electronic Purchasing Service for non-mission critical items. We worked with a major information technology company over a period of seven months helping guide their development of a service to connect corporations and their computer and office supply vendors.
- Development of an electronic commerce service for small businesses. In this assignment, we developed a strategy to provide electronic services to help small business in their marketing, procurement, payroll, employee records keeping and pension funds management.
- Development of an Internet-based service linking job seekers with corporate personnel offices. This assignment required the development of an appropriate electronic “product” (content to be provided as part of the service), plus as the investigation of potential alliances with content owners.
- Business advice to Internet-based information provider. Personal consulting to the founder and CEO of an Internet-based information company focusing on the advertising industry on topics such as business definition, business plan, partnering agreements, and shareholder exit strategies.
- Strategic review for a database company threatened by electronic commerce developments. In a case of information disintermediation, the value of this client’s services was threatened by greater availability of information on the Internet. Easton assessed the nature and level of the threat and offered options for new directions.
For insight on electronic commerce, please see our thought pieces:
One-to-One Pricing in the New Economy
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