April  2006      Vol. 15, No. 4  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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The Internet and Your Business Strategy

Technology has long played a factor in business operations. The Internet is the latest advent of technology supporting strategic initiatives. Yet, many companies are under the impression that the Internet in itself is a business strategy. This has proven not to be the case.

Just as the telephone, the PC, the fax machine, and other groundbreaking technologies do not stand on their own as a business strategy, neither does the Internet. However, the Internet is a powerful complement to a winning business strategy that helps companies compete more effectively in business and better satisfy customers.

Use Technology to Support the Nature of Your Business
The best business strategies involve use of technology to support and complement the very nature of the business. For example, a retail company can leverage the Internet to drive new customers into their store, sell online, provide inventory and pricing information, and much more. The store can use the Internet to do what they already know, more effectively, not as a replacement to their business strategy.

The Internet can provide you with a competitive edge in two areas: operations and marketing. The Internet closes the communications gap in all areas of business operations. As an effective marketing and promotional tool, the Internet is top-notch, and investments in back-end operational functions can help streamline a company and lead to improved ROI and increased efficiencies.

Internet Only Is Not a Winning Strategy
Your business model and strategy should come first, not the technology that may power it. Investments in web-based technology should be based on determining how you can add more value to the company and customers. Being on the Internet is not a business strategy, but rather an effective mechanism for transforming your strategy into reality. If your company does something well, deploy that advantage on the web.

The Internet has made business more complicated as customers expect more and operations attempt to keep up. Implemented properly, Internet technologies can lead to a solid return on investment, deliver improved value to customers, and provide an excellent complement to your business focus.

Source: Adapted from Small Business Marketing Idea-Letter, March 2003.
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