Evolve or Dissolve: Managers Require a New Way of Learning to Keep their Businesses Afloat
Most managers are not currently equipped with the knowledge necessary to facilitate real organizational and business change. They lack the frame of learning required to excel beyond ecommerce, and towards eBusiness. Christopher Skinner, from MakeBuzz, discusses the theme in this article to New Media Knowledge.
By Christopher Skinner
An eBusiness can be defined as a business that has fully integrated the Internet with all of their channels, including marketing, sales, distribution, and customer relations. Speaking specifically about marketing, an eBusiness is governed by performance driven budgets, derived from data across all media channels to create economically self-sustaining growth that satisfies overall business goals.
If the goal of any company is to grow and adapt with the marketplace, including economic conditions, social changes and advances in technology, then eBusiness should be the objective. In order to achieve this objective, however, mangers and executives must embrace a new way of learning that is rooted in industry fundamentals but allows for the free and immediate absorption of market transformations.
One popular avenue for learning has been through books or seminars, however, most so-called management gurus, or experts, fail to educate their clients because they tend to over-simplify material down to nuggets of out-of-context information. A better technique offered by some technology-based groups work from the inside out, attempting to improve business efficiencies. But again, while this method may provide tools for business change, it doesn’t actually instill learning. If managers are to break out and seek excellence for their businesses, they must collectively comprehend their roles and tasks. Understanding their industry, from the foundational principles that govern it, to transformations that are occurring, is crucial to creating business evolution towards eBusiness.
An early explanation of the way one learns, written during the 1950’s entitled Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, contains some important takeaways that, if followed, could improve management learning significantly. Bloom’s taxonomy identifies three domains of learning, each of which are divided into progressive tiers. The most applicable domain is the Cognitive.
Transitioning from eCommerce to eBusiness, via Internet Integration, essentially grows the required ‘height’ and ‘width’ of the Cognitive Domain, by challenging management to incorporate many different sources of information. Not only must they contend with the frontend (user) and backend (technical) aspects of the Internet, but also other (offline) marketing, economic and financial components, distribution and customer management systems, and their own internal business processes.
Too often there is a breakdown at the very early stages of Knowledge and Comprehension, due to information overload. Furthermore, the sheer amount of information leaves open many opportunities for misunderstanding, which can cause more serious problems as they move upwards towards Application.
Likewise, during Application and Analysis, there is a high likelihood of misjudgment due to data paralysis or siloed decision-making. Currently, managers are not trained in how to convert information into action. Often, data and basic knowledge level reporting exists with no true ‘next steps’ or creative output. For example, when an agency ‘reads’ marketing and sales statistics to management teams during monthly meetings, this is a classic example of a misapplication of knowledge. Companies should provide training on high-level analysis and key performance indicators for their managers, enabling them to discern important tasks from volumes of data.
Rarely do businesses reach the Synthesis and Evaluation stages, during which it is expected that the learner take the knowledge they have gained and applied, and proceed to add, adapt and innovate. Only at the Evaluation stage can eBusiness be achieved. This stage merges the creative and the business mind - the synthesis of the artist and the economist.
Businesses must adapt to the new marketplace, created by shifting economic conditions, new mediums, and advances in technology, and the only way to truly change is via management education. In order to achieve eBusiness, this taxonomy of learning must be respected, and managers need to avoid the common pitfalls. Once the learning and principles are in place, evolving through restructure, or other complex requirements, should follow easily.
About the author
Christopher Skinner has 14 years of experience in the marketing and Internet industries, working with some of the world’s largest brands. He founded MakeBuzz in 2001 and today he holds two patents in fundamental online media management and tracking. MakeBuzz has worked with an extensive and diverse range of global clients including over 150 established multi-channel retailers. The company has evolved from a pure SEM/SEO firm to an eBusiness driven company, whereby it helps its clients utilize the web economically, as both a marketing tool and a distributed application.