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Our Founder's Perspective

October 1999

The Web has already changed how we do business — and it isn't going away. Yes, there was a lot of hype. Yes, companies were overvalued. Some common sense has finally taken hold — this needed to happen. And yes, good ideas and good companies have also been hurt along the way. But the web, the New Economy... whatever we call it... is here to stay. And it's changed how we think about business — about collaboration, about information and knowledge, about speed to market, and ROI.

Business works in a more collaborative environment than ever before. We now understand much better about partnering, about alliances, and associate and affiliate programs. We even work with our competition in ways that are good for all of us.

Information and knowledge are not distributed linearly any more. Companies that will succeed are changing their organizational structures to manage the non-linear, non-hierarchical flows of information. This can be uncomfortable at first, but it's necessary if customers are to be kept happy.

Customer focus, privacy & respect. All the collaboration, all the non-linear distribution of information, all the ways your business practices are now transparent simply emphasize the importance of being good corporate citizens and respecting those who provide you with information. You need to say what you mean and have your actions follow your words.

Make your marketing dollars work harder — Protect your Brand. Your online efforts must resonate with your offline branding activities. You should take advantage of the unique environment of the web — but not at the expense of your brand, your purpose, your goal. All your marketing efforts need to be integrated — all your public relations, advertising/ marketing, sales materials, company reports, business cards — all must work together. Your business practices are now transparent and every customer interaction affects your brand — branding is no longer just an advertising slogan. And branded companies and products generate significantly more revenue than unbranded.

Ensure your information is easily accessed by those who need it. Can they print the information they want? Java, Flash, and Rich Media need to be relevant and useful. Rich media can become extremely cumbersome — for both the site visitor and those who maintain the site. If it isn't relevant to your message, to your site, or to your business, be careful that you don't get too clever. Sophisticated programs can crash computers, extensive use of high bandwidth processes will slow down your server, and if all the information is delivered via rich media, many won't get it at all.

It's important to stay current with technological possibilities on the web and to take advantage of them when relevant. I do not believe in including technological gimmicks just to prove you can. For example — frames. Frames can help navigation through a complex site — but they can also make your pages hard to read, impossible to print, difficult to brand and get listed in search engines. Use frames and other technological marvels with caution.

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