Many organizations value the corporate or organizational Website; they understand it is an excellent communications tool and may generate some business. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle with how to incorporate and to what extent to incorporate, the Website into their corporate strategic planning. This goes for any size of business and government. The fundamental issue starts with the nature of the approach – which is thinking about the corporate website and how the corporate site fits in with corporate strategy. This needs to change.
A few years ago, as Web 2.0 started to take affect, there was a fundamental shift. People can now participate on the Web unlike ever before in the history of mankind. Collaboration and sharing tools and applications enable people to create, collaborate and share across incredible distances at any hour of the day. Prior to Web 2.0, an organization could afford to think in terms of their website only. They were essentially “pushing” content to their audiences and the audiences could do little to interact or respond. Web 2.0 completely changed this fact.
Today, a small corner pizza shop can suffer significant income loss within days, in relevant context with a major international corporation who may also suffer significant financial losses from Web based acitivities. Conversley, both types of business may see significant financial growth. Becuase people can use the information on your website in many ways, across many channels, very quickly. They may even use information you don’t have on your website, or build their own. And you can’t prevent it. In addition, more and more businesses large and small, are moving knowledge-based work through Web-based services such as CRM and recruiting or financial management.
All this means that when you are developing corporate strategy, the Web now has a place at the table. Not just as “what will be our website goals in the coming year(s)?” But rather more complex than that. Such questions that may now be considered in corporate strategy are;
- What knowledge work functions will we be doing on the Web? How will this impact HR and Operations with our IT budget?
- How will we be engaging with our audiences on the Web? What impact will this have on Investor Relations, Public Relations and Marketing?
- How can we leverage Web-based software applications to reduce IT costs and improve productivity to achieve greater shareholder value? Will it help bring us closer to Economic Profit?
- How will the Web impact our long-term recruiting activities? How is our online reputation and will it impact potential hires?
- What legal concerns may we face with off-site data storage in other countries?
- How might our competitors better leverage the Web to find new competitive threats to our business?
- What security threats may we or our customers face that could impact our business? How do we plan for risk mitigation?
These are just some of the Web-related issues that will impact corporate strategy over a year and in coming years. Any organization that doesn’t take these issues and the Web seriously in their strategic planning may suffer at the hands of their competitors who do. Ideally, when strategic planning commences, we have found that each senior manager should bare responsibility for understanding the impact of the Web on their area, and whoever is responsible for the overall strategy can then incorporate these elements into the overall plan.
Such an approach is a risk mitigation strategy that can help protect shareholder value, improve stakeholder communications and ensure better financial management for Web-focused projects.