The E-Business space is ever-evolving and depending on which organizations you look at, you’ll see E-Business teams structured in many different ways: some companies have strictly an online marketing or social media only focus, some are “web teams,” others are channel marketing focused, while others are a combination of all facets.
Furthermore, where these groups align is also a pressing question, and it’s something I’ve been searching for best practices on to understand how others are doing it successfully so we can position our organizational talent with career opportunities as well as establish a smooth operating rhythm.
Forrester’s E-Business Organization Research
Forrester has put together a handful of articles on this very topic in the past 24 months and have been the only research firm I’ve found specifically dedicating analysts to the topic of E-Business. A Google search on E-Business org charts leaves a lot to be desired, so I’m compiling this list of the most valuable Forrester Rsearch I’ve found to date:
Most recently, Best Practices in Organizing for eBusiness, finally provided examples of E-Business org charts at different companies. A couple older articles include Building Best-In-Class eBusiness Teams and Dissecting High-Performing eBusiness Organizations.
In the End, Org Structure Doesn’t Matter; E-Business Maturity Does
Forrester’s eBusiness Maturity Model was published in the Is your eBusiness Team Ready for Prime Time? article and is essentially what E-Business executives need to use to evaluate the strength of E-Business in their organization. The maturity model is broken down into four primary buckets:
- People, organization, and culture
- Business and technology process
- Channel integration
- Measurement and metrics
E-Business teams must essentially be tailored for how your organization does business. There is no right or wrong structure provided it meets your business needs and you consistently build upon the above four maturity areas.
For example, I work for a consumer products company in which we do a very small portion of business direct-to-consumer online but in the end, relationships with our retailers are what ultimately matters. Therefore, our E-Business team is typically focused on “ease of doing business” initiatives, marketing our products online, and learning how consumers shop online.
On the flip-side, a retailer who sells multiple branded products would have substantially more online merchandisers on its staff because their goal is to sell products.
Three Spheres of E-Business Execution
Now, when it comes to execution, there is a right and wrong way. Borrowing from Jeremiah Owyang’s Three Spheres of Web Strategy, these same three spheres of web strategy expertise are essentially the pillars of E-Business execution:
For reasons outlined in Jeremiah’s diagram, you can’t be missing one of these components and still have a successful execution.
The Secret Sauce for your E-Business Organization
Forrester’s 4-maturity-area model is an essential tool in long-term planning and growing talent in your E-Business organization. Jeremiah’s 3-sphere tactical model is where the rubber meets the road. E-Business can be a strategic advantage and you want to use these two models as guides for properly positioning E-Business within your organization. What works for another company may not work for your business and go-to-market strategy.
The single most important facet will be aligning with a C-level executive who either has a background or a willingness to learn and leverage E-Business as a competitive advantage. Without this, the E-Business team will fall into a rut of taking orders from business units without guidance on which projects are more important than others. The end result will be a resource-strapped, burned out team with no clear path for growth and no definitive business value to the organization other than “keeping the lights on.”