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INFO TECHNOLOGY

Internet as a cost-saving device

Readers may notice a certain theme running through my column - the amazing changes that the Internet is having on today's business. So far I've looked at how the Internet can help companies find new customers and markets, improve customer relationships, collaborate more closely with supply chain partners and analyse their business for strategic advantage. All of these things are focused on driving revenues. But increasing revenues is only half of the story when it comes to profitability and saving money internally is just as important. The Internet can help here too. Here are four sure-fire ways to save money using the Internet.


Michael Klemen

Readers may notice a certain theme running through my column - the amazing changes that the Internet is having on today's business. So far I've looked at how the Internet can help companies find new customers and markets, improve customer relationships, collaborate more closely with supply chain partners and analyse their business for strategic advantage. All of these things are focused on driving revenues. But increasing revenues is only half of the story when it comes to profitability and saving money internally is just as important. The Internet can help here too. Here are four sure-fire ways to save money using the Internet.

1. Empower your employees - Ever thought about how much time it takes your HR and accounts departments to process all of your employees' expenses claims, holiday requests, travel arrangements, changes of address etc? Why not let them do it themselves? On a company-wide intranet, employees can file expenses claims, update their own personnel details, book their own travel, and make other routine requests. The data is input only once, by the employees themselves, and can then be routed, processed and approved automatically, saving time and money.

2. Banish direct mail - Direct mail campaigns have to be designed, produced, printed and posted. A very costly and time-consuming process for a technique that has been proven to have very low return on investment, typically a 2% to 3% response rate. Want your target customers to know about new deals, products or special offers straightaway and at practically zero cost? Use direct e-mail instead. Once you have received permission from your customers to send them e-mails, there's no more cost-effective or timely way to communicate with them. Response rates to personalised direct e-mails can be a staggering 76%! More response + less cost = a marketeer's (and CFO's) dream.

3. Make an exhibition of yourself - Huge amounts of marketing budget go into exhibiting at trade fairs or organising traditional hotel seminars. It makes more sense to let customers come to you - on the Web. Internet seminars are effective and cost very little to stage - a product demo or slide presentation and an audio stream (which can be done on the telephone) are often all that is required. Physical location is no longer an inhibitor, as delegates can attend from anywhere in the world. It saves them time - only 1 or 2 hours of their working day - rather than 2/3 day trip, and it also saves their company money.

4. Buy smarter - How much of your company's expenditure goes on small items bought from a shop round the corner on an ad-hoc basis and reclaimed on expenses? Most companies find that 30% of their total transactions are actually made in this unregulated way. The smart answer: get catalogues from a small list of preferred suppliers, for everything, and publish them on the intranet. Maybe even have an internet link to suppliers for quicker ordering.


Michael Klemen is Applications Marketing Director, Oracle EMEA. Questions and comments may be sent to mfischer@at.oracle.com

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