Entomology of the digital economy's mutating species
One of the images I find myself using when I am lecturing
on the subject of electronic commerce is that of the larva's
metamorphosis into a butterfly.
The idea is simple : via my computer, I have observed
the main reasons why some succeed in the world of cyber-commerce
and others fail (which is easy to criticise). If I still
don't have the magic formula, I have identified, during
the course of my observations and experiments, a strange
phenomenon which is closely linked to success on Internet
in 92.9% of the subjects studied.
All of the companies start by thinking of Internet as
a technology. A few months later, they realise that Internet
is also a good method of communicating and putting marketing
techniques into effect with low costs, and finally that
it represents an excellent means of distribution.
And it is precisely this word finally that makes all
the difference between the business which will expand,
thanks to Internet, and the rest. Because if you stop
at the equation Internet = a means of distribution, you
have a good chance of missing out on the real potential
of the Web.
Almost all the businesses that I've studied under my
economic microscope have undergone an fundamental transformation
in their work method, their sales techniques, the service
they provide, and have often even modified their product.
This is one of the essential lessons of the early years
of electronic commerce : a business has to evolve subtly
to sell by Internet. A metamorphosis has to take place,
to change from the larva stage to the butterfly.
The larva represents a business of the industrial economy
: it likes paper, it tries to find customers for the goods
it produces, it advances slowly because of its weight,
and because it keeps its eyes fixed on the ground, it
only sees its predators at the last minute. It sells little
or hardly at all by Internet, as it only understands the
terms production, marketing and distribution.