Enterprise is Killing Ebusiness

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Ebusiness Ruled by Pack of Big Dogs!
by Mike Banks Valentine

As a small business journalist I make it my top priority
to search out and review products of value to the little
guy. Scouring the trade shows like InternetWorld and
eBusiness Expo for those solutions that matter to the
small business, I've discovered dozens of wonderful
tools for customer relationship management, office
productivity and ecommerce enabling of businesses.

Attending shows over the last six months has grown less
and less interesting and the tools I've discovered of
lower value until it seems that there are only a handful
of innovations to consider and even fewer that are of any
value to your business. The crowds have fallen off as fewer
demonstrators reserve booths and some shows have even been
rescheduled due to lack of interest from vendors and

I've worked out why products are of less value, innovations
are of less merit and crowds are disappearing from the shows.
I may have even worked out why the economy is drying up like
a windblown pile of leaves before a storm.

It's the enterprise! The Big Dogs of business now rule the
eMarketplace. can't afford their solutions and
they no longer offer any that matter to us anyway. Massive
solutions providers providing solutions only to each other.
It's survival of the biggest, not the fittest.

Global 500 companies are only doing business with each other.
Start-ups only want to do business with those same companies.
Venture Capital only goes to fund ideas that matter to those
same Global 500 companies and now the economy is reflecting
that development. The big boys already do business with each
other. Why demonstate products to each other at public shows?
They sure aren't showing anything of the remotest interest to
the public.

"People leaving a job are often told not to burn any bridges.
That philosophy appears to be paying off for the founders of
digiMine Inc., a Seattle, Washington-based company founded in
March 2000 by three Microsoft veterans."

In order to create an effective startup, start by working for
the Big Dogs first and then leave to create your own company
which then sells things to your previous employer and those
very same Global 500 companies that they already deal with.
There is no need to ever deal with the public except to "mine
their data", which is the business of DigiMine.

If I had one piece of advice for those laid off from jobs at
the Global 500, it would be to do the same. Don't sell products
of interest to the public, they've all been laid off because
the profit is in the enterprise! Sell your services or ideas to
the Big Dogs and you can join them in the big dog house!

As I sit in the pressroom of the ebusiness conference and
expo on the floor of the San Jose Convention Center, writing
up this piece I face the booth of IBM which takes up the space
of 16 smaller booths. Beside them is a similarly sized space for
HP which holds more Hewlett Packard staff than interested
visitors checking out the product displays.

The next booth holds a multi-million dollar optical storage
hardware demonstration from a company called StorageTek which
could only be purchased by their two show neighbors, IBM and HP.
Next to that sits the GE Global Exchange booth, of interest only
to other giant corporations. Intel has a presence here, as does

Vendors are resorting to giving away cash to gain audience for
their presentations -- literally. EC Outlook is giving away
fifty bucks to one out of 10 people willing to sit through their
10 minute demo. Vistors are watching presentations to gain logo
laden tchotchkes, not pay attention to "Solutions" meant only for
other giant corporations.

The show is attended by fewer and fewer folks because none of
us need "Enterprise Solutions across legacy systems" but we do
need little products and services for our little web sites.

Those billions of web pages were not put up by the Global 500
or even the Global 1000. They were put up by millions of
individuals and small businesses that just want a share of the
ebusiness pie. A pie that is increasingly being baked up and
served with the same 16 stale ingredients either produced or
sold by the Global 500.

As you approach the refreshingly small booth of WebTrends,
you are approached as a possible "Enterprise Edition" customer
seeking the $4500 software that provides "metrics to predict
ROI", not the buyer of the $400 CD that measures and charts
your web site traffic. Although the latter is available, it's
not promoted actively to attendees. After all, what would the
other big dogs at this show think if we were offering a dinky
little boney item that built our business ahead of the one keeping
us afloat while we try to come up with stuff of interest to the
giant corporation in the next booth.

The web has become dominated by B2B (business to business) not
because B2C (business to consumer) doesn't work, it's because
they can stay afloat financially longer by providing expensive
"solutions" to monstrous companies rather than affordable
products to little businesses.

Am I frustrated that there is very little to report here of
any interest to small business. You bet.

Am I upset that the only hotel I can get is a $200 per night
"corporate solution" instead of a place to sleep. You bet.

Do I believe this show reflects the reason ebusiness is in steep
decline? You bet. I'll even wager that the next show I attend
will be one that offers a thing or two that matters to someone
other than IBM, Intel, Oracle and GE Global Exchange.

As I was preparing to go live with this issue, I discovered
a cute one paragraph piece from news stating:

No Go for SOHO

Xerox will terminate its small office/home office
(SOHO) business that includes personal inkjet
printers and xerographic products. Pink slips
will be photocopied and handed out to 700 of
the unit's employees. Xerox will contine to
provide service and support to customers who
own SOHO items.

The press release on the site links to a live
recorded conference call from CEO Anne Mulcahy reducing
the decision to a few columns of numbers to investment
analysts. Listen for yourself:

But apparently the profits are where, boys and girls?
In the Enterprise! Who are all doing the same thing.
Now if all the big dogs stop doing business with the
little guy, they'll soon be barking up the wrong tree!

They've each chased that money to the top of the money
tree and find themselves balanced on slender branches
that can't support their weight. Now there's nowhere to
go but back down to the bottom to deal with the little
guy again.

Ya gotta wonder why IBM and Intel make those commercials
that air during prime time when they could simply call up
each others web pages and buy from each other. They sure
don't offer anything of interest to the public. But then,
to whom would they give away logo laden tchotchkes to?

Maybe they could interest those Global 500 executives? No?
Those guys won't respond to the $50 prize offered to sit
through the demos either. How's business Sparky? "Ruff!"
Sit up and beg boy, want a bone?

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Ezine emphasizing small business online
e-tutorial online at:
By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web!

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July 29, 2001