The Wall Street Journal is running a lead story in the Marketplace section that “Businesses Quit Slashing IT Budgets.” That brought me back to the subject of an earlier post: are you overspending, underspending or correctly spending on you web presence?
The issue is that there is no “you” out there. I come from a background in customer service contact centers. Customer service managers, because they are often (and historically almost always) viewed as a cost center, know right down to the last drachma what their operation is costing them. You can’t even take a cup of coffee that they haven’t calculated. They can rattle off the cost of communications, infrastructure (PC, network, headsets, furniture, real estate), labor, packaged software, IVR, ACD, CTI. These cats have sharp claws. Now go over to the website. Here we have bloviation: ‘it depends what you want to include’ or ‘my budget for the web is’ or ‘that part is our agency budget.’ There just isn’t a single individual who stands up with all of the facts and success metrics.
Website planning and budgeting is like Napolean’s Grande Armee trying to take Russia. Bravado, resources, more resources – but somehow the pieces never came together. For your business, your customers and prospects are what will wear you down in the end. And into this mess comes your social networking efforts. You should be subscribing to our research to read the incredible depth of work we have from colleagues like Nikos Drakos, Adam Sarner, and Gene Alvarez, but here is the nut of it: most groups building social networks have no really good business case for what they are doing. Let’s get a blog going! Hurray. Let’s get our clients to post 23,585 ideas on our website and then we’ll commit 18 full time resources to see if there really might be a pony in all of this…. stuff.
I know, many of you in the west loved the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Very sweet, very well intentioned. But he was so easy to just light on fire. Luckily he had friends to protect him. Who are your friends to protect you from building elaborate social networking capabilities but no idea how that will help better market your products? Win new customers? Serve existing customers better? Drive new revenue? And deliver clear answers on the cost/benefit of your efforts?
It’s coming – there will be a person in your organization who eventually owns your website, and it will be measured on how customer-centric it is. Maybe you want to get ready with good data to support what you’re doing.