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TORONTO (06/28/2000) - The results from a recent Deloitte & Touche LLP e-business readiness survey don't exactly instill confidence in the state of Canadian e-commerce.

According to the survey, 69 percent of respondents said Internet-based services will have a major impact on or will transform their company. This is the good news. Now for the bad: the survey also found only 19 percent of companies have fully adopted these services.

With the Internet doing its very best to cloud traditional national borders, the need to be at the front of e-business development is paramount if companies are to survive the increase in global competition.

Tom Dagenais, partner of the management solutions group at Deloitte & Touche in Toronto, says: "In three years, [Canadians] are going to be where American companies were three years ago...Canadian business is not paying attention, is not investing and really hasn't gotten far at all."

The survey's statistics back up this line of thought. The 81 percent of companies who have not fully adopted Internet-based services fall into various categories. More than a third (38 percent) of those surveyed say their company is in the development stage, plan to consider a policy or have agreed to a development plan for Internet-based services. Seven percent say their company has no plans to consider Internet-based services.

According to Dagenais, even the 35 percent of companies who have implemented some Internet-based services are not doing as well as they might think. "Most people think that e-mail is a big piece of [Internet-based services]," he says, adding, "if that is what they think is a really hot e-commerce or e-business technology, holy smokes are we in trouble."

He is not alone in his conclusions. "The adaptation of e-business technologies is slow in Canada," says John Reid, president, CATAAlliance in Ottawa. "You have a contradiction here -- awareness is quite high [yet] absorption is quite low."

Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the culture of Canadian businesses, according to Dagenais. He says Canadians, as technology buyers, tend to be rather conservative and are more likely to be late adopters than their American brethren. Canadian executives tend to want out-of-the-box solutions that are already proven in their industry, he says.

-- Chris Conrath

POOLING RESOURCES MAKING AN ON-LINE SPLASH As with many Internet economy business leaders, Clement Hudon wants to make waves in the e-commerce market.

However, he wants to make waves literally.

As president of Trevi Pools in Laval, Quebec, Hudon is jumping into on-line retailing in a big way. His goal for the swimming pool manufacturing and installation company is to generate 50 percent of its sales through its Web site (www.etrevi.com) within five years. "We have no choice but to do that," Hudon says. "For us, it is the future."

Two years ago, Trevi decided that, rather than sinking budget dollars into opening more retail stores, it would earmark the money for a new e-commerce strategy. "We decided to use e-commerce because it would be a bigger market with access to more customers, compared to physical stores," Hudon explains.

"Every time you try to open a physical store, you need people, you need a lease and it is a long process."

Although the company's Web site doesn't offer on-line ordering today, Hudon is confident his 50/50 revenue goal will be met in five years.

The key driver behind Trevi's e-commerce success will be its ability to give customers what they want, Hudon says. "Everyone wants to get a different pool than his neighbour's," he says.

Using a graphical three-dimensional configurator software tool called CustomWorks from J.D. Edwards & Co., along with other components of the software vendor's ActivEra and OneWorld e-business solutions, Trevi's sales staff and distribution partners currently are able to custom design in-ground or above-ground pools and spas, and have them shipped to the customer for installation.

Within the next 24 months, Hudon says, Web customers will be able to use CustomWorks to self-configure their pool orders -- picking the size, shape, wall design and colour, and pool-liner pattern. And as any smart Web retailer knows, add-on accessories help to push up profit margins. To that end, Trevi also markets a full line of pool accessories and patio furniture.

The next phase of Trevi's e-commerce plans will include the implementation of J.D. Edwards's Customer Service Management System, which will allow on-line customers to enquire into the status of their order, including scheduling and installation dates, accessory deliveries, and maintenance and service scheduling.

Although a direct-sell Internet business model could potentially create friction between Trevi and its distributors, Hudon says he knows the value of nurturing a good relationship with top-quality pool installers -- who, after all, complete every pool order received by Trevi.

And in fact, Trevi will be relying on solid partnerships with pool installers throughout North America as it expands the reach of its current distribution network over the coming months.

-- Linda Stuart

PLAY ACTING ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE... Executives looking for a little diction coaching or those who have always considered themselves a modern-day Richard Burbage may want to check out a new seminar program offered by The Janus Centre in conjunction with the Stratford Festival of Canada.

Drawing from the Bard's many studies in leadership and human nature, the "Dramatic Leadership" program, held in Stratford, Ontario, is a five-day exploration of the organizational and management skills needed by all good leaders, analysed from the perspective of dramatic theatre.

Coaches from Stratford's theatre school help participants to delve into a deeper level of leadership comprehension with skills development sessions, including voice coaching, actor insights and movement instruction. William Shakespeare's preeminent play, Hamlet, is deconstructed to highlight relevant themes such as visionary and strategic leadership, culture building, authenticity and integrity, and communicative leadership. Seminar attendees will apply these skills during a workshop performance of a scene from Hamlet.

The CAN$3,200 general registration fee includes tickets to Hamlet and As You Like It, a private reception with members of the Stratford Festival company, a daily lunch and two scheduled dinners.

The registration deadline has passed for the program taking place later this month, but interested executives who register before July 1 for the session running Sept. 25 to 29 can take advantage of an early registration fee of CAN$2,950. The general registration deadline is Aug. 14.

More information can be found by visiting www.janus.org or by calling (416) 533-5353.

-- CxO.ca staff

HIGHS & LOWS MARKET WATCH CanadaStartups.com wants to give a leg up to every new-world-economy company with a good idea. The company launched in May what it calls the country's first on-line resource dedicated to connecting Canadian Internet start-up companies with a network of potential investors, employees and suppliers.

CanadaStartups.com says that unlike most venture capital firms and Internet incubators, it plans to promote and assist every high-quality startup in Canada, rather than a limited few -- thereby addressing a crucial unfilled need, in its opinion. According to the company, the only cost to join is "a well-thought-out idea and plan, an established team and clear demonstration of commitment."

Among the vendors CanadaStartups.com has partnered with are financial and insurance provider Investors Group and patent and trademark law firm Gowlings, Strathy and Henderson.

Michael Corcoran, founder and CEO of CanadaStartups.com, says, "It's no secret that the money, talent and ideas exist in Canada, but everyone seems to be waiting for someone else to take the first step toward building our Internet industry...We're jumping in with both feet and we're not going to stop until Canadians start winning the Internet game."

-- Linda Stuart

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