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The era of the digital butterflies

NBC News summed up the day's trading on 8 September 1998 with share price rises of 7% for Citycorp, the banking giant and 50% for Amazon, the best-known on-line bookseller. At the end of April 1999, the current state of Internet caused the NASDAQ to waver. The share prices of e-businesses have become Wall Street classics.

This Wall Street fever is difficult to understand unless you have the means to evaluate the development potential of ebusiness. In my personal experience, and following an analysis of early successes and failures, I am convinced that a business which understands and applies the rules of this new economy correctly can expect to multiply its turnover tenfold every two or three years.

The normal means of access to this economy consists of creating a commercial website. Those readers who are unfamiliar with the world of on-line selling should read annexe 1, the text of a training video which I filmed in collaboration with Computer Channel. It offers a sound introduction as to how to set up a commercial website.

But beware : setting up a website is not the be-all and end-all of your on-line selling strategy. If you wish to expand, it isn't that simple. Your business must develop its intelligence as well as its agility.

Intelligence for the products which will be able to adapt to the client's needs. Commercial Intelligence for spotting opportunities and consequently adapting your sales techniques. Economic intelligence, to stay abreast with the rapidly evolving world of the Web and construct a vision of the future.

Human agility : the electronic company increasingly uses software agents and sub-contracting to improve its efficiency. Financial agility : the ability to access capital quickly is a key factor of success. Commercial agility : understanding the new process of adding value and investing in your chosen market are essential.

Agility + Intelligence = Agiligence ; this is the equation of your success in the Internet economy.

Volume, volume, volume, margin, margin, margin, logistics, logistics, logistics : these are the headings of the first three parts of a study by the Ice group, an American company specialising in e-business. This report analyses the results of Amazon.com. In studying the quarterly accounts, it became clear to these analysts that Amazon could only pass its break-even point on condition that its sales exceeded a certain figure (a billion dollars), which could be achieved in the first quarter of the year 2000. The extremely limited profit margins were also a subject of great interest. Two strategies seemed possible to improve their existing deficit : an increase in annual turnover per customer, by cross-selling techniques, and an increase in productivity by improving its logistics, the cornerstone of on-line selling. Jimmy Wright, the high priest of Wall-Mart's logistics, was decommissioned. Managers and innovators work together in the world of e-business.

Despite the explosion of online sales of travel products, 6% of American travel agents went out of business in 1997. Electronic commerce (see Planete Commerce Electronique) creates victims in the real world.

Electronic commerce was cited on the cover of Business Week on 24 August 1998 as one of the three main economic tendencies of the 21st century. This otherwise excellent magazine was wrong : electronic commerce has already made its mark on 20th-century economy. It began with Minitel, continued with AOL, and now Mrs Smith can mount her cyber-trolley and go shopping. Internet no longer concerns only computers : it is used for mobile phones, cars, television and interactive terminals.

The revolution started a long time ago, and you must be part of that revolution.


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If you enjoyed this site, we obviously share values: we have written it in 1999 !

We haven't updated it online as the vision still is more and more relevant: the more the internet matures, the closer it gets to our vision.

We still believe in innovation, creativity, rigour and results control.

Contact us if you need webmarketing services:

Raphael Richard, founder

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