Category Archives: Wanzer Group

New Media

NewMedia_BannerAs New Media begins to make serious headway in mainstream business, it is becoming clear that not all implementations are a good idea. Many small businesses have been hanging back to let the “big boys” pioneer the new stuff much like they did when the web was still a newborn. The World Wide Web as a whole has been a grand experiment with some mixed results. By in large, it is rare to find a successful business without some kind of web presence. New media is bringing a whole new set of tools to the table.

What do you mean by New Media?

New Media encompasses a collection of tools based on traditional media like video and audio, that are presented in interesting, interactive formats through social networking tools and environments. Wow! That sounds like a lot of double talk even to me. Here is a simpler breakdown; A typical audio or video program that is distributed through a blog or social site by one-time visits or by subscription. I suppose that is a little clearer. That is a part of the confusion though, many people have varying ideas as to what social networking and New Media are, let alone how to use them.

By now, most daily web users are familiar with Social Networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Spaces, Blogger, and tons of others. There are also micro-bloging sites like Twitter and others. Include user media sites like YouTube, Flickr, PhotoBucket and a host of others along this line. Now add in podcasting sites to host or analyze your traffic and you have quite a confusing collection.

Lots of businesses hear repeatedly “you need a website” or worse yet “you need to be on ‘xyz’ website”. While there are very few businesses and organizations I would say don’t need some kind of presence online, most don’t take the time to look at what they do need. A business needs to know who its customer base is and what the extent of there internet activities are, what sites do they use, and how. Do your customers blog? That is an important question.

Most businesses would benefit from simple Social Networking sites like Facebook for better indexing in search engines and provide point of contact information. The micro blogging can be beneficial as well. But do you need a blog? Should you podcast? Maybe. A simple blog under your own domain name could replace a basic website and provide you with an online venue for future expansions.

Each business has its own needs and eccentricities, some businesses and organizations could greatly benefit from a Wiki based site, or a Wiki in addition to the regular site. Any companies website plans should be determined by company needs, client base needs, vendor needs, and the internet culture of all three.

One thing that comes up in consultations all the time is the desire for custom applications. Often there are off the shelf solutions that can be applied at a much lower cost, or free. Usually adaptive solutions do require more effort to implement initially, but in the long run, that time is well spent when the time comes to make more changes. When an off the shelf solution requires a lot of adaptations or incorporates a lot of unneeded features or complex interfaces, a custom application may actually be cheaper. Another consideration is, if you want to use a specific application but it is expensive and you just can’t do it now, there might be a simpler low/no cost solution that the expensive application can import at a later date when you can afford it.

How does this apply to New Media? Integration. When you are building an online presence it should be consistent in appearance and function. There are times when the over all functionality of the web presence determines the applications used for the presentation.

In the long run, a consultant who is familiar with a broad range of internet applications, e-commerce, New Media, and Social Networking, you will most likely save you thousands on the first implementation and much more over time by tactically planning future upgrades. These savings are after the consultants fees by the way.

~FBJ

Planning

FlightPlanningBusiness is an adventure, and like any adventure it begins with planning.

Planning doesn’t stop once you embark of the journey, it continues throughout the adventure. At each leg you take a moment to evaluate where you are, how you have done, and where you are going. Re-evaluating at each segment gives you the situational awareness to stay on course, or make necessary diversions. Regular, honest, impartial, re-evaluation of each element of business gives you the opportunity to expand or contract your business as situations arise. Many entrepreneurs only look at continued expansion, as the recent economic climate has demonstrated, that is a short sighted mistake. A successful business is a flexible business, able to expand or contract.

Scalability is a buzz word in business that is frequently misunderstood. A truly scalable asset will grow or shrink as needed. No product or service is infinitely scalable, everything has its limits, upper and lower. It is the responsibility of the business owner/manager to understand what those limits are, and how they might impact the business in ether direction.

Responsibility is another word that seems to ether misunderstood or just plane missing from the vocabularies of some people in big business. As a small business owner/manager you know that it is your butt on the line. If you are not responsive to your customers, you lose them. If you don’t pay your bills, you don’t get services or products, and then you lose your customers.

In the current economic environment the small business owner who understands scalability and takes responsibility has a chance to come out ahead. While there are no guarantees, it can be assured that a business owner/manager who does not understand these concepts will undoubtedly not survive in this competitive climate.

~FBJ

The New National Economy

bag-O-moneyThe failure of several large financial institutions demonstrates that bad management can bring down a business of any size. As a small business it is unlikely that the government will bail you out when you make those mistakes, so it is up to you to be the best business person you can be. Take responsibility with your customers and your suppliers. Any attempt to BS them will not go well, and no one can afford to lose ether in this economic environment.

Small business must become the backbone of the new economy. When a large conglomerate goes under, it damages the national economy. A single large company failing can cost the economy thousands of jobs, the loss of stockholder savings, millions of dollars in disposable income, and additional millions in unemployment and social services. It effects not only the employees of the failed company but most likely thousands of jobs spread across suppliers/vendors and their suppliers/vendors. A large company can literally effect five or six layers deep and bring the actual number of jobs lost to ten times original estimate.

The cascading failures of 2008 caused by failing financial institutions are still not fully realized. Jobs are being lost every day even as you read this article. Though there are many contributing factors and failings in government and the financial institutions that precipitated the situation, they are not the underlying cause. The virtual elimination of the “middle” class is the primary cause of the economic situation we are in now.

Over the last several decades businesses have succumb to the “buyout” or being put out of business by the unbeatable buying power of a big-chain-store, large companies grow larger and the number of small businesses continues to decline. So how is this the big problem? It is actually a simple situation. When a big company fails it effects an equally large group of people and beyond. When a small business fails it rarely effects more than those directly employed and there family. It really is that simple. There are contributing factors as well, one of the biggest is the decision to outsource, manufacturing and services, to overseas companies; something unlikely to be done by a small business, and even if it where it would have a much smaller effect.

How do we fix this mess? The path to national recovery has many facets, the most important of which is equally as difficult. The business world has a whole needs to take a more nationalist view of its responsibilities; even when it means giving up a few points of the profit margin to keep jobs and manufacturing here in the United States. A company that claims they could not survive if it employed or manufactured locally is showing it’s short sightedness and a lack of sound management. The practice of building a company specifically to be bought out needs to stop. The practice of big companies buying up small companies and then closing them just to eliminate competition needs to stop.

What this all breaks down to is that business as a whole needs to be a responsible citizen. The bottom line of the balance sheet is not the bottom line. The consumer must also be a responsible citizen, buy American products when ever possible, seek out, support and encourage small business as much as possible, and be vocal about your support, encourage others to do the same. As a small business owner/manager you too must be a responsible citizen by using local suppliers when ever possible, join local business and professional associations, share your pride with your customers and fellow business owners/managers.

Business as a whole needs to look at the big picture, investors need to look at the big picture, consumers need to look at the big picture. Everyone needs to take responsibility for the national economy.

~FBJ