B2 Awards Post 3

IBM
[ Fastest growing ]

CEO Lou Gerstner’s challenge to IBMers was simple: become the number-one company at doing business on the Web. IBM’s ebusiness ramp-up is impressive– from $150 million in 1997 to $3.3 billion in 1998, a staggering 2,100 percent jump.

Granted, IBM’s marketers have gone a lit-tle overboard with the fancy e-headings– taking the company through an “e-business transformation,” creating “e-procurement” and “e-care for customers,” “e-care for part-ners,” “e-care for employees,” and even “e-care for influencers.” The marketers themselves won’t rely on just any marketing anymore, but instead do “e-marketing communica-tions.” Needless to say, IBM has refocused.

Big Blue has set the bar high for 1999, but its goals are achievable. Internally, the company hopes to save millions by leverag-ing the Web for procurement, customer service and employee training. In procure-ment alone, $629 million in goods and serv-ices was purchased over the Internet in December 1998, but $12 billion is planned for ’99. In customer service, IBM says the Web will save $600 million in 1999. As part of its “e-care for employees,” IBM plans to deliver 30 percent of its internal training via distance learning, with anticipated savings of $100 million.

On the sell side, IBM’s 1999 ebusiness goal stands at $10 billion to $15 billion. At the impressive run rate of $1.2 billion in December 1998 ($38 million per day), it’s well on its way. Watch your back, Cisco Systems.

Marshall
[ Most comprehensive ]

Through the Web, Marshall Industries has reached out in all directions. At first impression, Marshall’s Website is overwhelming. It should be. Marshall placed the one of the first industrial-strength catalogs on the Internet in 1995. For 95 percent of Marshall’s engineering customers, it is the primary method of interaction with the company. Customers have a choice of more than 20 distinct functions, such as order status, four different search categories, a virtual design center, instant live help, online interactive seminars, geo- graphical sales data, a quoting tool, and for the supply-chain voyeur, a live camera in the warehouse. One of the site’s strongest customer service points is a live chat feature, which allows Marshall customer representatives to answer queries in real time 24 hours a day.

Marshall has gone beyond distribution and client matching into multimedia. A key Marshall offering is a Net broadcasting service called the Education News & Entertainment Network or E.N.E.N. Started as an Internet seminar feature three years ago, it’s part broadcasting, part one-to- one marketing, and part business-to- business electronic marketplace, where prospective customers are matched to education programs sponsored by high-tech suppliers. These innovations and Marshall’s reach have made it truly the most comprehensive business on the Web.

Yahoo!
[ Most web-centric ]

What makes Yahoo! a formidable competitor in the online world is its organization–the company is literally built for speed. “We’re organized to execute fast, because speed to market is a primary competitive advantage,” says Tim Brady, vice president of production and executive producer at Yahoo!.

To stay fast, the world’s most admired Internet company sticks to small teams of people, works in fairly short product cycles, and thrives on bottom-up decision-making. Yahoo! can’t wait for months of strategy planning before launching a product, making fast decisions routine. Its launch strategy involves releasing products before full features are in place. (Thankfully, Yahoo! is not in the off-the-shelf operating systems business.) Yahoo! then closely monitors customer feedback – drawing on its enormous traffic – and adjusts enhancements accordingly. Even if only 2 percent of Yahoo! users bother to send such feedback, that’s more than 1 million comments each month.

Yahoo! maintains more than 70 online “properties,” as the company calls its products, which include online tools for everything from fantasy sports to tax preparation. To make these properties come alive, content producers and engineers work hand in hand. Yahoo!’s strength here lies in its deep knowledge of what works well, and what does not, on the Web. And Yahoo! has the know-how to scale to millions of users.

Yahoo! doesn’t create the content found in its properties–it doesn’t have to–but deftly aggregates, categorizes, organizes, and manages content from hundreds of paying and non-paying partners and the Web community in general. In doing so, Yahoo! has gone beyond mere search. Its expertise in organizing content is unparalleled, an expertise that comes from understanding its medium, the Web.

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