Sunday, February 6, 2011

Two books on dot-com businesses

One was Blown to Bits by Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster which is an overblown gimmicky book about how to take advantage of the dot com boom back in 2000. (I'm a little late to the party.) It's filled with hyperbole and one liners that management consultants use to peddle their trade to unsuspecting CEOs: How do you think we should take advantage of the Internet? Their response: First, you have to take your current business and blow it up, dude. Then you have to think like an insurgent and blow your competition up. (Hence the title of their book.) Any question is answered by: Blow it up.

The second more useful book is by Patricia Seybold, with detailed case studies of what works and what doesn't. The book is very informative but unfortunately what she describes as cutting edge then is average now and unfortunately, for web sites and companies that have achieved the level of penetration and implementation that she describes have nowhere to go but down.

Some of my recent experiences: A tree fell on our phone line and I tried to get Verizon to come out to hang it back up. The web offered no help after drilling through all the pages on Tech Support, I couldn't come up with a phone number to call except the main phone number (more on this later.) So I submitted a form for advice which came back with a response that said we cannot help you, please call the main number. So I do and to actually schedule a service is next to impossible with the obtuse menus which only gave me my account balance. Seriously! After calling the number five times and going through different paths of the system I finally stumbled on an actual live person. It really couldn't get any harder.

Trying to use miles on a partner airline is incredibly is impossible on the web – yes, you have to call someone! In this day and age, can you imagine! While scheduling flights, hotel reservations etc by web is a no-brainer, the technologies do not scale down. Yes, I would love to be able to do this for dentists, doctors, etc. Imagine, having to talk to some one for something as simple as this!

What is also interesting to note is that while companies like Dell have been successful selling over the web they have also begun reselling via big box stores again and while companies like Gateway who used to be successful with a web presence have been 'blown to bits' by Dell and HP so that they are now selling exclusively in stores. In some ways this reflects the fact that buying computers is no longer as complicated as it used to be and requires less customization than it used to.

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