MIAMI BEACH, FL — How do you get your many business units to operate behind one face for your customers? That is the question asked by Sheila Bacon, senior director of E-Business Solutions for Sprint Global Markets Group. Bacon manages the Sprint business B2B website, which generated $35 million in revenue in 2000.

Bacon said that e-business is “about building relationships by leveraging information technology.” She added that e-business spans all major business processes like a blanket, connecting:

  • Suppliers;
  • Back office;
  • Front office;
  • Customers; and
  • Channels.
  • Bacon said that while half of B2B transactions will be online within three years and the U.S. has a 50% share of the global e-commerce market, there are changes looming.

    “Within two years the U.S. share of the exploding international e-commerce market will drop from nearly half to one-third,” she said.

    In order to keep up with the frantic pace of the global e-business market, Bacon recommends that businesses employ a fundamental strategy to strengthen customer relationships. And that begins with a unified front from all aspects of a business.

    In Us We Trust

    “Goals of projects must involve everyone,” she said. “It is an ‘in us we trust’ scenario. Everyone must be involved and accountable.

    “If an e-business model is to add value, it must have a seamless interaction regardless of which channel or mode of contact.”

    Bacon added that in order to achieve changes in technology, changes in processes, and changes in organization, all sides must move forward and “address issues simultaneously.” She stated that it isn’t always easy to get people from different groups to think alike or act in the spirit of cooperation.

    “Don’t allow people to bring sharp objects into a room because they have a passion about their way of doing things,” she joked.

    Bacon broke down organizations into five units: product, operations, information technology (IT), marketing, and manufacturing. She said that most organizations are not designed to leverage the full capabilities of e-business while supporting a cross-functional customer relationship across all five units. She cited the problem as a “barrier” between the “silos” of each department and noted that “people are trying to solve problems from whatever silo they are in.”

    In the end, Bacon said that getting all units of a business to act as one under the e-business umbrella will benefit the most important part of any business — the customer.

    “Enablement of the Internet is really about the customer,” she concluded.

    Bacon can be reached at (e-mail).

    Sidebar: Nordyne Improves Its B2B

    Earlier this year, Nordyne launched eNORA, the company’s e-commerce website which it said “makes doing business with Nordyne even easier.”

    “Most of Nordyne’s distributors have switched to eNORA from the previous business-to-business system and have found it to increase productivity,” said Matt Brobeck, manager of E-commerce and Information Systems. “As a business partner with the distributors, Nordyne uses eNORA to help them manage their inventory and control other business functions with ease. In turn, distributors can provide contractors faster service and additional technical support.”

    According to Brobeck, distributors use eNORA to streamline the distribution process. The Nordyne Electronic Continuous Inventory Replenishment (ECIR) program can help distributors ensure availability of inventory.

    Contractors working with distributors using eNORA to handle warranty claims are reimbursed quickly, Brobeck said. Recently, Nordyne implemented an ePAY program that issues and mails the servicing contractor’s warranty check within 24 hours of claim submittal. In the near future, Nordyne will activate direct deposit into contractors’ accounts for warranty service work.

    The company said some of eNORA’s benefits include:

  • Increased Nordyne/distributor interaction;
  • Distributor access and security maintained by the distributor;
  • Enhanced communication throughout the distribution process;
  • One central location for distributor log-in; and
  • Reduced distributor costs associated with B2B.
  • Distributors access eNORA through a password-protected site on the manufacturer’s website ( Once Nordyne has performed the initial distributor set-up, the distributor then is able to manage its users’ access to the eNORA system. While Nordyne has the eNORA technology, the company said it “still can provide support to distributors, whether using high-tech or traditional methods.”

    Nordyne hopes contractors will have further access to distributors as eNORA continues to develop. Starting in 2002, distributors will be able to manage contractor log-ins to eNORA. Once eNORA access is granted, the contractor will have the option of retrieving literature, receiving online sales leads, purchasing replacement parts, signing up for training, and receiving a personalized Web page.

    At the end of 2001, Nordyne said it will shut down its previous business-to-business system and use eNORA exclusively.

    Publication date: 08/13/2001