Automation eBiz:

The new business environment

By : Jim Pinto,
San Diego, CA.

Almost universal business e-mail provides closeness that breeds startling new effectiveness. The old, bulky snail-mail catalog is becoming obsolete and most companies are now providing access to product and pricing information on the web, with many going beyond, with true B2B interaction.

The original version of this article was published by
EECO Electrical Equipment Co. Sept. 2001

In the fast-moving decade ahead, the significant competitive value is Time. With accelerating technology, many products are obsolete within months and market share is going to smaller and more agile competitors. Larger companies are under pressure, with declining sales and profit causing a wave of mergers and consolidation that will continue to change the landscape.

Almost universal business e-mail provides colleagues, channels and customers with closeness that breeds startling new effectiveness in the global village. The old, bulky snail-mail catalog is becoming obsolete and most companies are now providing access to product and pricing information on the web, with many going beyond to allow on-line purchasing and true B2B interaction.

Waves of change

The new age has arrived with a broad-based recognition that business is different today. The waves of change brought fear at first - the initial "deer in the headlights" syndrome.

This has given way to healthy action by survivors who have recognized that business in the industrial environment has indeed changed. But many are still uncertain about the directions of change, giving the agile and the bold a competitive edge.

Dotcoms: fizzle not sizzle

At the turn of the century, dotcoms were the in-thing and all the large automation companies rushed in to finance their own version of eBusiness and B2B marketing. Distributors and Sales Representatives became nervous, and even paranoid, about the encroachment on their turf.

While many were pacified with token commissions or discounts on web-sales, there was a clear, but unspoken, understanding that if direct sales growth came, disintermediation would occur.

However, industrial automation’s specialized requirements seem to demand personal relationships beyond eBusiness mechanics. Vendor-backed industrial automation dotcoms have mostly fizzled because the real benefits - new customers and new sales growth - failed to materialize. B2B startups by large end-users like Dupont ( are faltering with flatness.

Everyone keeps wondering: if Cisco and Dell can generate significant sales through the Internet, why can’t we? Perhaps they forget that industrial automation has several inhibitors - low volume, highly customized products and systems, lack of sustained market growth. The dotcoms that have value are links that provide regularly updated, useful information and assistance to customers, which any single vendor cannot provide.

Be first, run fast!

Companies that succeed do so by creating and structuring their own markets, offering customers innovative new ways to receive value. E-commerce provides only the technological means, the delivery mechanism - good companies are using it creatively, in ways that generate new growth and value for all the parties involved.

Tomorrow’s successful companies are not simply providers of traditional goods and services. Electronically linked alliances of suppliers and sales-channels - the "infomediaries" - are rendering traditional manufacturing and marketing obsolete. The winners are those who create innovative new transactions for their customers and make them come back to a “sticky” business portal. Those that deliver the best total package will prosper.

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Copyright 2000 : Jim Pinto, San Diego, CA, USA