Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Senior managers shouldn't care about the Web

Just reading through Gerry McGovern's piece titled "Senior managers: you can't keep ignoring the Web" and, like many of Gerry's articles, I agree with the practical up-shot of the argument, but not the basic premise. That is, whilst I would agree that, in practice, a senior management team should include at least one executive whose responsibility it is to oversee the direction and operation of the company's Web presence(s), I disagree that they should be doing so because of some inherent special quality of the Web.

A senior management post in an organisation of any size should be driven by the desire to realise the strategic objectives of the firm. Typically, achieving these objectives will require activities that are well suited to the Web. I say 'typically' because this is not always the case. And so a senior manager who spends energy on a Web presence where that presence isn't directly contributing to the achievement of those strategic objectives is wasting their time, resources, and potentially damaging the performance of the company instead of helping it.

Senior managers - actually, anyone for that matter - can't afford to be enarmoured of a technology to the point where they blindly implement initiatives without regard for actual benefit. This is relevant for the Web just as much as it is for an IT project, or a TV campaign, or a product release. They must retain their focus on the strategic objectives of the company and be open-minded enough to be able to select, implement, and operate the best (effective, efficient) initiatives towards those goals. In practical terms this will often include some form of Web presence.

As a side note, I think the history lesson in the conceptual framework of corporate Web sites is now fairly out of date. New companies no longer implement organisation-centric Web sites with anywhere near the prevalence that we saw 5-10 years ago. Instead, marketing teams and Web agencies are embracing customer-centric philosophies and representing themselves accordingly; and providing services that are similarly centred on the needs of the target customers. Sadly, the organisation-centric Web presence lives on, and probably will do for some time, but there is a definite shift towards customer-centricity occurring throughout the business world.

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