Posts Tagged ‘online’

Back to the future with clicks without bricks business

September 13, 2010

Back at the time of the dot com boom, there was a great deal of debate about the future mix of business operations.

 It was the turn of the millennium and there was a naïve belief that the business world was about to become electronically enabled. Terms like e-business and e-commerce were as over-used and over-hyped hyped as today’s equivalent buzz phrases, such as cloud computing and social media.

 The thing is, the naïve spin masters were inevitably right – the business world has become electronically enabled. Phrases like e-business and e-commerce no longer matter because being electronic is a given; every company – large or small – is expected to have an online trading platform.

 Back in the dot com boom, experts debated how traditional “bricks and mortar” firms would compete with online-only businesses. Would traditional companies create an online channel to become “bricks and clicks”?

 The answer is “yes”, but in a form that is more complex than might have been imagined. Online only giants, like and, proved that having a high street presence no longer mattered.

 A just-in-time supply chain and smooth web sites meant such businesses could offer competitive deals. The success of such firms meant that consumers started seeing the web as their first port of call, using price comparison to search out cheap deals.

 High street stores have quickly become showrooms, where consumers will simply view products in-store before returning to the desktop and buying from the best-priced online business.

 As a result, the dominance of online has matured to such a point that some firms are considering online-only provision. More than “bricks and clicks”, what has started to develop is “just clicks”.

 Take insurance giant Allianz, which is considering the remodelling of its Cornhill Direct business into an online-only provider (see further reading, below). The traditional model of direct selling has proved costly in an age where many customers search online via aggregators.

 By creating a well-designed web site, companies quickly realise – from manufacturers to media organisations (see further reading) – that online-only can helps cut costs without damaging customer service.

 Even former, which emerged from the demise of former high street stalwart Woolworths, has taken the route to web-only selling. It seems that getting ahead for many businesses is all about being online-only.

 Further reading


Think online and offline to avoid getting stuck in the clouds

October 20, 2008

The Telegraph Media Group (TMG) recently announced it is not refreshing its current Microsoft Office, Exchange and Windows XP deployment and is instead moving about 1,400 internal users to cloud-based service Google Apps.

TMG’s decision to move into cloud computing – where IT-related capabilities are provided using internet technologies – could be indicative of a sea change.

More IT managers are considering a similar transition to desktop provision through the cloud, where employees can access applications and information through internet-enabled devices. For IT managers looking to the cloud, is there any major difference between online and offline provision?

The key benefits of an off-the-shelf package are well-rehearsed. Most employees will have spent most of their working lives adapting or using standard Microsoft Office packages.

Standardisation promotes usability, with workers able to benefit from working with an accepted format for spreadsheets or written documents. Such usability has helped cement Microsoft’s desktop dominance – until now.

Where as IT managers would previously have shied away from change, most now realise that best value requires an innovative and transformative approach.

Google Apps, for example, encourages collaboration. Users are able to benefit from a broad suite of applications, sharing and creating knowledge documents attached in Google Mail.

Cost is also an important factor. The Premier Edition of Google’s desktop service offers low-cost licensing and technical support, with bugs fixed and patches updated automatically.

Problems associated to storage are also removed, as information is stored in the cloud, rather than on a firm’s own resource-hungry servers.

But such a method can bring security concerns. Storing information centrally means IT managers need to be aware of potential dangers and ensure workers are trained.

And while TMG’s move into the cloud shows a leading-edge stance, mass adoption will rely on providers – such as Google – ensuring online applications have a familiar feel and high-specification functionality.

Working in the cloud also means users will need 24/7 access to the internet. Look for a provider that can match your demands, allowing workers to use cloud-based tools offline – because a drop in service availability can have damaging effects on productivity.

While the world gets carried away with rich internet experiences through Ajax and Web 2.0, users must remember the browser also serves a meaningful life offline – as well as online.

Google’s approach shows how businesses can create applications, whether workers are connected or disconnected – which has to a useful trick in helping your firm to stay ahead of the game.

And moving from the tried-and-trusted into the clouds should be all about increasing efficiency.