Over 25 years ago, I started my working career in a DEC warehouse in Nashua, NH. The minicomputer was all the rage but there were whispers in the marketplace about the development of a “personal computer”. DEC’s business was doing great but the company’s founder, Ken Olsen, didn’t believe in the future of a PC. A guy who built a fortune on miniaturizing the mainframe couldn’t see the miniaturization of the mini as it was evolving right in front of his eyes. Eventually, he was forced into a half-baked approach to a personal computer but it was too late.
A little bit like Mr. Olsen, today’s businesses face evidence of transformational change in their opportunities for growth. It’s the Web. It’s obvious, right. I get it. I have a website. I am doing business on the web. I see it every day, right in front of my eyes. Like Mr. Olsen with the PC, though, there is often denial and then adoption of a web approach that is often half-baked, half-hearted, half-assed. No longer can a company consider the execution of their business without a thoughtful, rigorous and disciplined plan for maximizing return from the Web. But that plan cannot stand-alone separately from a businesses’ traditional approach to running their business. Every go to market effort, every option for fulfillment, every opportunity to deliver service has to be considered in terms of maximized ROI by execution on-line, off-line or both. Businesses must embrace a “wholistic” plan. With the maturation of the Web, it’s essential for every business to step back and define an integrated strategy of traditional and virtual. Don’t pull a Ken Olsen. He thought the PC was a trivial development. Unbelievably, many say the same about the Web. Crazy, isn’t it?