Posted at 1:00 am on 06/12/2014 by Dr. Rahul Razdan
The current trend in the world of
website development is toward mass customization through the use of content management toolkits such as Wordpress. What do
we mean by “mass customization?” Every website is built with a different layout
and functionality. This article argues that building websites using this model is
very counterproductive for the vast majority of small business firms. In fact, this
approach actually impedes the generation of economic value. Why? There are three
- Maintenance Costs: When a small business firm builds a website,
either directly or through web developers, it has implicitly committed to the lifetime
costs of maintaining that website. There are a vast number of reasons for updating
a website, including a redirection or new opportunity for the business, an update
in technology (the introduction of the iPad, for example), or simply a desire to
take advantage of new web technology (liked Linkedin). There are many examples of
small businesses that have built websites but do not have the resources or time
to maintain them.
- Opportunity Costs: Most websites are built and maintained by a
cottage industry of web developers. Many small business firms can’t obtain enough
bandwidth from the web developer to update their websites in a timely manner. This
hinders marketing innovation for the business, because all actions are gated by
access to web resources. Further, as new Internet technologies are introduced into
the marketplace, the current toolkit approach forces everyone individually to update
and integrate the new technology. Viewed at a market level, this is a truly massive
amount of work.
- Business-to-Business collaboration: With different companies building their own
unique websites, businesses cannot easily integrate their respective marketing messages
to create a material impact in the marketplace. Also, it is impossible for small
businesses to integrate in a synergistic manner with natural partners like banks
and insurance professionals. Thus, customization actually leads to the loss of massive
business opportunities for small businesses.
What about builder solutions from
companies such as Web.com, GoDaddy, Vistaprint, or Wix.com?
Companies such as
GoDaddy, Vistaprint, Wix.com and Web.com increasingly have offered "web builder" tools. While these
tools certainly aid in the ease-of-development of websites, they fundamentally do
not change the paradigm of mass customization and have the same issues as toolkits
such as Wordpress.
What is the solution?
In a word, the answer
is platforms. Platforms differ from toolkits in that a single entity builds a core
functionality that can be personalized by each business. Examples of successful
platforms include Facebook, Linkedin, and Quickbooks. Today, small businesses have
access to platforms such as Ocoos for their marketing function. These platforms
have the following characteristics:
- Standard web presence
driven by personalization with direct data entry by customer.
methods for integration of content.
functionality including natively integrated ecommerce, customer relationship management,
social network management, data mining, and analytics.
How do platforms compare to the
- In a platform, the
consumers of the website gain a standard look and feel. This contrasts favorably
with the mass customization of the toolkit model, where customers have a potentially
haphazard and unfamiliar experience.
a platform, small businesses have access to a deep functionality at a very affordable
price. With a toolkit, most of the advanced functionality is not available to the
small businesses, and if it is available, the small businesses have to integrate
the technology themselves.
a platform, maintenance costs are minimized since they are shared over all users.
For toolkits, the aggregate maintenance costs are massive and generally not supportable
by most small businesses.
a platform, opportunity costs are eliminated because new Internet technologies can
be integrated in a very efficient manner, unlike toolkit approaches that require
integration on an individualized basis.
the platform approach allows for a standard base upon which business-to-business
marketing integration can occur. The mass customization resultant from the toolkit
approach disallows this possibility.
Do these platforms remove the need
for digital marketers?
No. Actually, the opposite is true.
With these platforms, digital marketers can focus on core marketing much more efficiently
than they currently can. Additionally, they can operate with a platform that can
scale efficiently over time.