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by Colm Toolan

 

Various B2B Flavours

I see the e-Business guys (and gals!) as those people in the organisation that facilitate online technologies - old stuff, new stuff, fads - that support the business, in directions and at a pace that the business can swallow.

Particularly in traditional businesses - I'm in industrial engineering type selling - we need to work at different levels that I've grouped as follows:

Basic B2B
Doing all the right things like content, usability, localisation etc etc - that allows the business to do a better, faster job supporting (conservative) customers and partners who use the web (but would much prefer to call someone!) Here, I measure success in terms of having someone download a document, configure a product but also calling a sales person.

Better B2B
Doing all of the above, but looking much more at the Customer Activity Cycle. Asking "what exactly does my OEM or my re-seller actually do all day, and how can I help him/her do that job?" That invariably leads to additional content and functionality that we can implement, but the best leverage is to be had when we create integrated flows that take the user step for step through his daily workload. (I've written more about this here)

NextGen B2B
Where we leverage the technology and a detailed understanding of the industry we're working in to change that industry and our position in it. Think Blue Ocean, plan for 5 years out and apply tools like Alex Osterwalder's Business Modelling Canvas. This approach will lead to "business in a box" type solutions, much like Cisco implemented for its partners around 2003. Here the supplier provides new business opportunities for its partners, but also the platform, the education and the support to avail of and to grow these opportunities. If we can "redesign the industry" in the process and get first-mover, gorilla advantage too, well that's pretty cool!

In my view, the e-Business team is levering technology to grow the business, providing insights and persuasion to management to understand the opportunities and then experimenting to find and delliver the best - that is the most appropriate - solutions for his/her business. If that's true, then the next 10 years certainly won't be boring!
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Business Architecture is the way to go!

I'm Colm Toolan and I'm a firm believer in business architecture!

I believe that business problems, and their resolution, are firmly rooted in the structure of the organisation and its processes - the business architecture.

All too often, tremendous effort is applied to resolving the symptoms that result from perceived and actual problems. The effect is short term solutions, which often produce counter-intuitive side effects. My view is that - not unlike traditional architectural problems, where the effects of bad design are often separated in time and space from the causes - only an understanding of the underlying business structures can lead to valid, long term solutions. This view is what differentiates business architecture from quick fixes.  (More...)
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Business Architecture in Action

Customers (used to) tell me that the approach I use helps them to understand their business better. Maybe that's because I "get paid to ask stupid questions" that no employee has ever dared to ask. Maybe it's the "way I tell it" that pinpoints issues that management haven't had the time to recognise. Maybe it's because I'm Irish - quick and good at understanding "other's people business". Whatever the reason, here's an example of business architecture at work:

Using a Customer-Cycle-Content model, data relating to existing customers - and their level of satisfaction with the current e-Business solution - were analysed. The results were integrated with the client's Customer Activity Cycle model, to prioritise areas for action. These actions provide the basis for improved content - in terms of subject matter and wording, but also in terms of navigation, usability etc. Improved, easier-to-use content results both in more satisfied users and in improved search engine ranking, which together increase user numbers, web conversion rates and the number of customers placing orders. (More...)

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Business | Business Architecture | e-Business |

By the way, this web site is an occasional hobby activity. I'm not really into monitoring a variety of social networking sites to know what people are thinking and/or saying about me :-) If you have an opinion, Quick-Mail me. If you want to spread the word, use this link to do so manually: www.toolan.de/index.html   

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