Author: Eric Erlebacher

What is an enterprise-level business?

First off, let’s define what it means to be an enterprise-level business. There isn’t really a concrete definition, but for all intents and purposes let’s consider it an organization which meets most of the following criteria:

  1. Products or services are offered across multiple geographic locales.
  2. Has a business strategy involving discrete departments or organizational units, each with their own objectives.
  3. While each organizational unit of the business may have individual budgets, collectively, the business’ financial resources are shared.
  4. Information (KPIs) are shared across organizational units.

The business has a diverse set of clientele which they cater to. Despite offering different products or services, the business caters to these clients as a singular organization.

That sounds pretty complicated, doesn’t it? Here’s my definition:  a huge business. We have several clients with physical locations numbering in the thousands, whom serve hundreds of thousands of customers on a weekly basis, or have thousands of employees, some of whom will never cross paths even once during their entire careers. Another “symptom” of what makes a business an enterprise is the inevitable bureaucracy involved when an organization reaches this scale.

The Problem

With an organization of this size, we end up having departments or sections of the business that operate completely independently of each other; each one having their own set of goals and objectives that occasionally conflict with achieving the company’s overall mission statement. Allow me to provide an example:

Widgets Inc.’s IT department is responsible for their website. They are on the hook to make sure the site is up and running properly 99.9% of the time. Despite this major responsibility, they also have a myriad of other obligations towards keeping the IT infrastructure up and running. Keeping all IT systems alive is their primary objective, and their success (or rather, failure) is measured in hours, minutes, and seconds of downtime.

Widgets Inc.’s Marketing department is also responsible for their website, but in a different manner. They are responsible for the content that appears on the site, which products get the spotlight on the homepage, and so on. In addition to all their website responsibilities  they have a series of traditional marketing objectives (print, television, radio, etc.) which they must meet. Their success or failure is measured in dollars and cents (or a return on their marketing investment, more specifically).

The real danger here is when there is a break in communication between these two departments. Both departments want to see the success of the company. IT, as long as they make their site updates and keep everything running, are meeting their performance standards. If the marketing department cannot effectively communicate their website needs to the guys in charge of making those changes, their message to the customers will be lost.

While the example of Widgets Inc. is a specific one, the message here is the same. We might be referring to IT and Marketing in this example, but it could just as easily be PR and Merchandising, or Operations and HR. Inter-departmental communication and collaboration is paramount to the overall success of the company in the digital age.

How to Fix It

1. Communication

If a lack of communication is the problem, increased and enhanced communication is the solution. IT and Marketing need to be on the same page as each other. They have a narrow set of aligned goals: the success and performance of the website. Just like each department has an understanding of how they will achieve their own goals as to not get fired, the two departments must understand how to work together to achieve their common goal. In the case of Widgets Inc., it’s the performance and success of the website.

2. Planning

I see it all the time across all my clients (and even myself); combined with a lack of communication, a lack of planning can very quickly cause a project to grind to a halt. If you have deadlines, milestones, events; whatever you know beforehand, not only do you need to communicate that to your staff within your department, but to stakeholders and liaisons across departments as well.

3. Know and Work for Your Audience

Last, but certainly not least, you must know and work for your audience. This is easily the biggest element to success that gets overlooked in large organizations. On a website level, this is often known as the user experience, but at an enterprise-level organization this can mean much more. Most departments — as long as they are meeting their own departmental goals — can lose site of their customer base. All departments need to be responsible for how potential customers will interact with the information being served on their site. All departments should share the common goal of making their site as easy to use as possible. Keeping your potential customers happy and frustration free is a key to success no matter what vertical you might work in.
As a digital agency, we can help alleviate some of the responsibility when it comes to the task of capturing your audience. We have built core practices into the way we operate to ensure that the communication between both us and our clients and our clients and their customers, is clear and consistent. Also, we understand how to provide an outside perspective that speaks across all departments within your company. For more information on how we can help you understand and communicate with your audience, speak with an expert today!

I’ve found myself repeating a few key concepts throughout this article. The repetition is for emphasis: communication is key. Increasing the effectiveness of your organization’s communication is easier said than done. That is why you need careful planning, frameworks, and above all, keep the potential client in mind.

Getting a project plan into place is going to be your first step in creating a successful website for your enterprise business. Start with our ebook, The Marketer’s Guide to Getting it All Done. We’ll help you layout a framework to complete it all.

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