B2 Awards Post 1

[ Most innovative ]

Dell Computer’s innovation addresses both tactical and strategic concerns in ecommerce. On both sides, Dell aims to solidify its Internet supremacy. On the strategic side, Dell gave us a hint of its future, the online elec-tronics superstore it announced in March. Expect Gigabuys’ features to be incorporated, which will take on an increasingly business-to-business profile. Gigabuys is a fun place to shop–just what consumers want. And www.dell.com is a serious place to purchase computers–just what businesses expect. Dell manages extremely low inventory levels for both. With Gigabuys, Dell is essentially an order aggregator without physical inventory for nearly 30,000 products.

From a tactical perspective, Dell’s Website innovations include rapidly deployable, customized Websites by industry and business type, natural language searching, extensive self-service support features, order status inquiries, and refurbished inventory access. Its most important innovation is Dell’s strongest feature, “build-to-order custom factory integration”–the company’s shorthand for, “We build computers to your specs, we start when you give us an order, and our goal is to deliver within five days.” Beyond tracking transaction volume and traffic, Dell’s 15 years of experience in managing direct customer information allows it to accurately predict and monitor customer conversion rates, a measure that tracks the percentage of browsers that turn into buyers. With such a sharp eye on its market, Dell is poised to enjoy even deeper and faster electronic customer relationships in the future. On the Web, “direct from Dell” is now living up to its true potential. It’s piercingly powerful.

[ Most integrated with the web ]

Just as much of the Web is dependent upon Cisco Systems’ networking gear, so Cisco depends upon the Web. The leading supplier of the unseen gizmos that weave the Internet together, Cisco has integrated the Web into almost every aspect of its business. The San Jose, Calif.-based company makes no secret of the fact that it depends on the Web for 64 percent of its orders, representing more than $6 billion in rev-enue.

Cisco was early in taking its procure-ment, fulfillment, and customer service online. Today, 45 percent of the orders Cisco takes over the Web pass directly through to the company’s manufacturing partners, without ever being handled directly by Cisco employees. Likewise, 70 percent of customers’ requests for technical support are fulfilled electronically, saving engineers untold hours every month.

But that’s only part of the story. Imagine a company of more than 17,000 employees all but eliminating faxes, paper memos, requisi-tion forms, and suggestions slips. The cost savings in paper clips alone would gladden the heart of the most sullen accountant. Cisco may not be quite there yet, but still the Web pervades just about every corner of the company’s internal operations, from acquisitions to recruiting. In its quarterly financial reporting, to name just one example, the company exercises the Web’s reach to create a “virtual close,” employing an automated system to retrieve data from Cisco’s many business units, saving its accountants long hours. Cisco employees have access to 1.7 million pages of information online.

Got a question for Cisco? Most likely the answer’s on the Web.

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