Monday, March 24, 2008

Build Your Digital Command Canter Part 1

The popularity of Star Trek is based, in part, upon our fascination with advanced technology. We're excited when Captain Picardorders his crew to take The Enterprise to another galaxy with the simple command "Make it so." In the distant future, it seems, we'll be able to entertain our merest whim by pushing a button or by telling a computer what we want done. Powerful machines will do the rest.

To succeed at digital marketing, you need to build your own version of The Starship Enterprise. You need to develop a digital command center in your company to communicate on a day-by-day basis with your customers and prospects. Unlike a traditional marketing department — often far removed from direct contact with customers — a digital marketing department must be hardwired to Customers. E-mail messages, for example, must be read and replied to Within hours, if not minutes, and your Web site content may need to be updated and changed daily. In addition, your customer database should be constantly churning with new information uploaded from your salespeople, your customer service representatives, and your customers.

Internet 2010

Integration in the Digital Economy

To gather, store, process, and distribute digital information, you need to integrate your company into the digital economy. In the next three to five years, you will need the following capabilities in your company.

  • Every computer is connected over a network using highspeed cable. This network includes an internal e-mail system that allows for the sending and receiving of Internet e-mail messages.
  • Everyone involved in your company — employees, customers, and suppliers — are able to communicate by e-mail with everyone else in your company. As bandwidth becomes greater, you can upgrade your e-mail capability to include video-mail and live video-conferencing.
  • Employees and contract workers are able to work at home, or at satellite offices, as easily as if they were in the office. Note: In the digital world, you may not have an office; your entire operation may run over a central server that electronically connects your organization.
  • Your internal computer network is connected directly to the Internet over high-speed telephone or cable lines. This means every computer on your network is connected to the Internet at all times. In fact, it means your computer network is actually part of the Internet.
  • You have security measures in place which restrict access to private corporate information on your network. One solution is to set up an Internet fire wall.
  • Your marketing presentations, internal communications, and training courses exist in a multimedia format which combines text, graphics, sound, and video. You have software that allows for the easy development of multimedia content.
  • You have one or many different types of online servers running on your network. This includes one or more Web servers, a BBS network server, and online database servers. Each of these servers are available to selected people within your organization over an Intranet, or outside your organization by way of the Internet.
  • As an alternative to internal online servers, you can lease space with service bureaus. For example, you can rent space on a Web site that is halfway around the world. You can update its content as if the server was in your office. You may use a service bureau to set up and run your online BBS system. Remember, you don't need to buy expensive digital equipment in order to use it — you can rent it as well.
  • Your customers access information about your business using a variety of digital communications tools including the telephone, fax, e-mail, the World Wide Web, interactive kiosks, and CD-ROM, and perhaps also through some sort of virtual reality (VR) device. Ideally, your customers are able to purchase your products and services electronically.
  • You have an extensive database on all your customers and prospects. This database is relational in structure. All your digital communications and your digital marketing promotions are aimed at increasing the size, quality, and complexity of this database.
  • All your computer systems are compatible. In the computer industry, this is known as "Open Systems Architecture." This means all your corporate information is accessible, no matter what type of computer is used. As well, your information should be accessible through all digital devices, not just computer-related ones.
  • Your employees are fully fluent in the ways of basic digital technology. Everyone in your organization knows how to use the three major types of software programs: word processing, spreadsheet, and database. They are comfortable creating and viewing multimedia content. They understand the basic concepts of the Internet, and can find the information they need on it.

In order to succeed at digital marketing over the long term, you need to set up this type of infrastructure within your company. However, man didn't get to the moon in one day. So take it one step at a time. Here's an explanation of how to take the first steps:

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