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Meta Group cautions against short term e-business planning

Meta Group tells regional companies that integration across sales channels will be key to satisfying customers in the future.

A senior Meta Group analyst today advised regional businesses to ensure that their Web sites are fully integrated with their other sales channels, such as call centres.

Ashim Pal, international director for Web & collaboration strategies, said that companies that fail to provide an integrated customer experience across all channels risk losing customers and mindshare.

He pointed to the example of an international hotel chain that he said had an "excellent" Web site with support for transactions. But when it came to calling up the same company's call centre to check on the progress of an online order, the call attendant had no knowledge of the transaction.

"By 2003, organisations will have to provide single views of customers across all channels," was Pal's advice to an audience of business and technology heads at Dubai Press Club. "If you don't, you'll lose mindshare and customers."

Many businesses, he continued, are in poor shape to achieve this because much of their Web development is done on the fly as needs arise, rather than according to a long term plan. This means that underlying IT systems often cannot be adapted easily to new functional requirements. Pal urged business to pay more attention to what their long term sales and marketing goals might be when they begin planning online strategies.

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