Month: December 2007

Corporate Governance: Mission Accomplished?

Stop the presses. The president launched a “corporate fraud prevention” task force. 

Another mission accomplished? 

Now, back to reality! 

This press release is no different than others coming out of a government body – high on process; low on results. The record of “accomplishment” is an exercise in “creative writing” – where are these 150 criminals? 

This raises two fundamental questions:

  • What role, if any, does the government have in corporate governance? 
  • Why are the shareholders asleep at the wheel?
  • Aren’t they supposed to be taking care of their own investments? 

In a free market economy, the only protection of property is inherent in the fundamental that drives such an economy – self interest. If shareholders do not pay attention to their own investments, this or any other government will certainly not. First, there is an issue of scale – no government is big enough to know what is going on in a $14 trillion economy! Then there is the issue of competence – when was the last time you saw a brilliant bureaucrat? 

And we promise not to discuss the issue of intent – governments are put in place by people who take money from other people to get elected. These other people are usually ones who represent corporate interests and want something in return – remember, this is America and nothing is for free. 

Corporate governance is the responsibility of every shareholder. If you do not demand it, you will not get it. 

P.S.: Oh yeah, lest we forget, now check the date on the press release! How did this task force do over the past 5 years?

eStrategy: Looking Outside the Box

Over the past decade – yes, it has been that long – eBusiness has come a long way. Not far enough but admittedly a long way from where we were a few years ago. Some of you have finally realized that eBusiness is not IT. (For those of you who have, please give a shout out to Gartner who haven’t got that memo) Some of you are saying it out loud. Is it time to take one more baby step?
Let us call this looking outside the box. Thinking outside the box is much abused. But there are other reasons. Read on!
Since eBusiness is, well, “business,” one must look at it as such! A business is nothing without customers. Customer demographics and psychographics dictate a business’ actions. The genesis of a business is when it answers: who is my customer? It sustains if and only if it finds an answer to: how can I serve them profitably?
As luck would have it customers do “live” online. Yippee! Unfortunately, their lives are multi-faceted so they visit more than one “web site”. Go figure! Next I am going to tell you that there is no Santa Claus. How much more of this can you take?
Not just “web sites” in the same industry but from different genres. For example, let us say your business caters to CEOs. A CEO can bank at Bank of America, drive a Lexus, shop at Neiman, get utilities at Con Ed, read Wall Street Journal, buy drugs at CVS…you get the picture?
Hopefully, your website is one of the sites they visit regularly. But that is a discussion for another time! We need to recognize this simple fact if we are to be effective in eBusiness: The game is not just to get the customer to your website; it is to be where the customer is!
Behavioral marketers have figured out this simple fact. So you visit an online car dealer and then go to your favorite news site. What ads do you see there? You guessed it: car ads. You buy nike online; what ads do your friends see on their Facebook page? Nike of course! (Facebook is curtailing this form of advertising as we speak)
Advertising is an obvious choice when it comes to leveraging our newfound knowledge. What else can you do to help your online cause? Well, that is where men will make money and boys will go home!
Yet another timely reminder: When thinking eBusiness, do not think website; think customer!