Under new guidelines laid
out by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the non-profit group that administers Internet suffixes such as .com, .net, .biz, etc., any person or business can get their own personalized domain suffix. Now, instead of having to register with a suffix like .com or .net a financial institution could register a domain ending in “.bank” or any other myriad of options. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for online branding and website domain registration. The limiting factor seems to be price as the initial application fee is $185,000 and $25,000 per year to maintain just one domain suffix.
So what does all of this mean for you as a business trying to compete in the online space? There are a few ways I can see this having an impact on your business.
Increase Branding – although you may not have the money to buy “.xyzcompany” domain suffix, you might register your current domain with a registrar who owns an industry specific domain suffix for a nominal fee.
Trademark Infringement – if you’re a high profile business or own a popular trademark you might have to deal some legal battles if someone tries to register a domain suffix that infringes on your business or trademarks.
Diversification – this change in domain guidelines will broaden the avenues online (who thought it was possible!?) to allow companies to diversify better online and allow people to find what they are looking for more easily.
Improved Messaging – communicating the right message may become clearer through this change as it will be easier for your audience to understand what you are about. For instance, if you are a plumber, having a website with the domain suffix “.plumber” will allow your audience to more easily recognize and understand what it is you do.
I’m sure there are numerous ways yet to be determined how these new guidelines will affect businesses and many will not become apparent until after the new guidelines take effect in early 2012. There is one thing that is clear, this affect is sure to be a pretty big game changer.
As a web development company we encounter projects that go very smoothly and projects that lag and falter. This is just the “nature of the beast” within website and application development
. But I wanted to highlight a recent project that was a case of a very smooth project and examine a couple of characteristics of the project that made it successful.
The website development project was the new Indiana Dental Association (IDA) website
. The first aspect of this project that made it go so smoothly and result in a successful engagement was that it had very clearly defined and solid specs detailed out before we ever began development. The IDA opted to engage our Strategy Consulting services
to spec out the requirements for the project and, as is often the case when a client chooses this route, the project has fewer bumps along the way and the client ends up happier in the end. The reason for this is because we know exactly what the client wants and we’re not trying to figure it out in the middle of trying to developing it.
The second factor in helping a website development
project to go smoothly is having an engaged and helpful client who understands that they have to put some time and effort into it besides just providing feedback on designs or functions. The IDA was highly engaged throughout the project and understood that, in order for the project to stay on schedule, they needed to be responsive to queries by our development staff and they needed to play a major role in creating content for the website. Creating content can be a daunting task and it is time consuming, but the website can never launch until it has content. When we do face projects that lag behind schedule, this is most often where the slowdown occurs. In the end, engaged clients make for happier clients (and happier web developers).
So here are the two takeaways: 1) even though it might cost you a little bit more, paying for a detailed strategy engagement to define the scope and specs of the project will pay huge dividends in the end, and 2) understand that when you embark on redoing your website, it’s going to be a time investment and the more responsive you can be and the quicker you can get content done, the sooner your website will be live and making money for your company.
Most professional services firms give their sales people a more traditional title such as, “Business Development Manager” or something similar, but such is not the case here at BitWise. Our people with primary sales responsibilities hold the title of “Strategy Consultant” and it’s not because we’re trying to cover up or gloss over the fact that they “sell” our products and services, as some might think.
We call them Strategy Consultants because what we provide to our clients is far more than just selling products and services. A significant component of our process involves understanding their business goals and drivers
and helping them craft the strategies and appropriate Web solutions
that will help them achieve their goals or solve the problem they’re facing.
It is often very difficult for many businesses to keep up with the continual changes
in the online world, and part of the responsibilities of our Strategy Consultants is to help our clients keep up with those changes and make recommendations to them based on what would fit with their business. Although they are the ones who “sell” our products and services, they won’t sell you something just to make a sale. The biggest motivation for our Strategy Consultants is to make our clients successful, so anything that doesn’t fit that objective doesn’t get included, even if it sometimes means helping a client discover that they don’t need whatever it is they might be asking for. So, if we do it right, our Strategy Consultants are like having Web experts on your team who are not on your payroll bringing to you strategies that have proven ROI. Cool, huh?
Having insight into the happenings in the market place (i.e. having your head UP) is crucial in today's fast-moving business climate. Too many companies keep their heads down, looking only at their local markets for competitive insight - or intelligence. The world of competitive intelligence has become quite sophisticated, yet perfectly legal and relatively easy for a company to undertake. Implementing a competitive intelligence program is not something reserved for just the Fortune 500 companies. For small to medium sized businesses with limited budgets, getting an intelligence program up and running is actually not as hard (or illegal)
as some might think and the importance of such is paramount.
Having insight into one's competitors, customers, vendors, etc., is not really an option in today's business climate. Take for example a recent engagement we had with a rather sophisticated client. We were helping them draft a 3-year vision
for their business. They wish to lead their industry in online customer experience (who doesn't, right?). As we were working through some VERY lofty and big ideas, we started asking about their competition: What are they doing online?
Much to our disappointment, they had little or no insight as to the undertakings of their competition - zero! How do you make long-range plans (2-4 years out) without an understanding of where your competitors are going? What if they undercut the status-quo market price? What if they are on an acquisition spree and you're unaware? Or they're promising to deliver your same products/services in a fraction of your delivery time? Scary stuff, huh?
Another frightening example involves a very well-established firm who suspected one of their competitors was importing patented products from the Orient under a different name, thus hiding it from typical patent infringement searches. With our assistance during one of our recent strategy sessions with this client whereby we had previously turned on our competitive intelligence solution
, we identified potentially market-shaking transactions being undertaken by a competitor. Think it doesn't happen? Think again!
Market intelligence (or competitive intelligence) is not "spying". It's keeping your head up and using technology to bring you possible opportunities and/or threats. Market intelligence legally
helps you eliminate blind spots in your business - and we all need more help watching blind spots!