E-Business Development – Crowdsourcing Business Strategy

E Business Development: Internet Rich Crowdsourcing

E business is constantly evolving. The crowdsourcing model with its internet rich community of volunteers and followers has proven to be a platform that will enhance e business development. As defined by wikipedia.org, “Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call”.

An example of this; Wikipedia.org itself. Wikipedia.org is an online free encyclopedia where anyone and everyone is invited to participate. In doing so, the “crowd” has become the author of the largest encyclopedia to date. At the time of this writing, there exists 3,384,039 articles in English alone. This is just since 2001, when Wikipedia was first launched by its founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.

Wikipedia.org paved the way for many other peer to peer sites and opening the ebusiness world up to a multitude of possibilities. Crowdsourcing has developed a new opportunity for ebusiness owners who want to showcase their expertise.WikiHow for example, a How-to encyclopedia created for and by the crowd allows you to learn about different techniques and articles. The site ranges from, How to win big in Vegas to how to knit your baby’s first sweater. eBay created ebaywiki where it educates its members on “buying and selling photography” (find another example)

What is fascinating about this particular business model is the drive so many have to contribute. Volunteerism is driven my a sense of purpose and community involvement. Wikipedia and many others, which use crowdsourcing as their model for growth have grown exponentially in the last few years and many believe the trend is here to stay.

Crowdsourcing, sustains itself on trust and purpose, making this a true paradigm shift for the economic belief that people are driven by monetary compensation. The community “trusts” its members because they know those who contribute (for the most part) are driven by passion and not monetary gain. BitTorrent, for example is a social site which helps people share music from one another. Music unites people and having the ability to tap into music experts in order to discover new artists and music genres is a luxury even the most deaf tone person can appreciate because through the wisdom of crowds comes the increased wisdom of each individual community member.

Epinions consists solely of reviews and ratings. This allows for people to search reviews they trust and who share similar interests. Therefore, introducing them to new products or experiences. Epinions now goes a step further…You can even review the Reviewer!

Forums and reviews have become popular because of two main reasons: people seek experts for advice, and people want to be seen as experts themselves.

No longer must you feel like you do not have an area of expertise because you can turn your hobby into your Niche specialty and allow others to seek your advice.

Consumers shop differently now. They no longer shop at a bricks and mortar, they shop online. Not just online, but from one another. Non-affiliated private consumers as in the case of ebay.com.

We now live in the age of Transparency. Buyers are more educated because their knowledge base has increased through the interaction of online communities writing reviews, answering questions for one another. Consumers are now more apt to research forums to get the inside “scoop” on products and their developments. Companies have become more savvy to this trend and have now begun interacting with their customers online. Developers are beginning to interact with their “fans” online and involving them in the production process.

This is genius! Can you imagine being part of the process of creating your favorite music video? This is where the trend is going….it is you who decides…the crowd. And when the crowd feels heard acknowledged and looked after… the lines start forming. Buyers are literally waiting in line or should I say “on-line” for products to come out of production. Production they have been in the trenches with, with products they have helped develop. Along the way building loyalty for the companies’ brand and product line. Crowdsourcing is the perfect integration of online and offline merging together in the development of e business.

The 5 Phases of Business Development

The Business Development (BD) process in Government Contracting relates to the identification of suitable contracts and preparation of proposals in response to Government solicitations for these contracts. It typically consists of five separate and distinct phases:

  1. The PositioningPhase (tied to the company’s Business and Strategic Plans), where the company decides on the direction they want to take to increase market share. The PursuitPhase, where the overall Marketing Plan is developed and then separated into the accounts that will identify individual targets to pursue
  2. The ProposalPhase, where the response to the RFP is prepared
  3. The Post SubmissionPhase, where clarifications, proposal modifications and negotiations (if any) are prepared
  4. The OperationsPhase, where the contract is mobilized for Phase-in, if won – or lessons learned from the Government’s debrief is collected, if lost

One important aspect of the BD process is that it is most effective as a closed-loop system, in which the Operations Phase information feeds into the Positioning Phase for an ever-changing system that quickly reacts to changing conditions in the marketplace. This is often referred to as the BD Lifecycle.

Many separate workgroups or business units support the BD process, from corporate management to the operations staff to production personnel and administrative staff inside the company, to third party Subject Matter Experts (SME) or professional proposal preparation personnel like those provided by third party consulting firms.

Positioning PhaseSome of the tasks performed during the major phases of the BD process include:

  • Defining the company’s direction
  • Using data from the Marketing Plan, establish target selection criteria and prioritize targets
  • Forming strategic alliances with other companies that can make good teaming partners that will lead to expanding the company’s resume in new markets
  • Analyze the gaps between where the company is today, and where the company needs to be, what it needs to have, etc to meet the projected goals
  • Establish the various Lines of Business (LOB) and develop the account plans (by customer, region, etc) to support the LOBs
  • Establish the necessary overall Bid and Proposal (B&P) budgets to support the accounts

Pursuit Phase

  • Establish and develop the Capture Plans for targets identified within the Account Plans
  • Develop an understanding of each individual customers’ needs and articulate these in each Capture Plan
  • Establish a customer Call Plan and meet with them to discover gaps and present solutions
  • Locate Key Personnel suitable for the job
  • Locate required subcontractors to fill niche task requirements or small business subcontracting goals
  • Locate and commit one or more “guy on the ground” that understands details that may not be disclosed during the procurement cycle (make sure he does not have a conflict of interest!) Redact all of the information into a Bid/No Bid document for analysis

Proposal Phase

  • Hold strategy sessions and discuss all known information, and discover any final gaps
  • Develop the Concept of Operation (CONOPS)
  • Refine and finalize the B&P budget
  • Mobilize the Proposal and Cost Teams
  • Attend the Site Visit/Pre-proposal conference
  • Conduct Final Bid/No Bid for Management
  • Prepare, refine, produce, and deliver proposal

Post Submission Phase

  • Follow up to client
  • Orals Presentation if required
  • Archive working proposal documents into library
  • Respond to Questions/clarifications from customer
  • Revise proposal as needed

Operations Phase

  • Mobilize for Contract Phase-in
  • Negotiate contract modification as needed
  • Develop lessons learned (entire team)
  • Collect and archive contract performance data for future proposals

This is just a simple list of some of the major tasks performed during the process, there are many other sub-tasks that must be performed to accomplish these, and there are many opportunities to do them incorrectly. This is often frustrating for companies, as they are unable to understand why they’re not experiencing the success they believe they should have, or that their competition has, because they are dutifully performing each step of the process.

What’s important here is that merely performing the step is not the same as performing it correctly. Another dynamic of this is that it can be difficult to admit that sometimes we need help, or it could be that upper management would take a dim view of our abilities if we asked for outside help with our internal processes.

Additionally, many large (and some small) companies need help, but don’t know they need it (or in extreme cases, are too arrogant to admit it). This is normally characterized by a high turnover of business development personnel as they struggle in vain to be successful using a broken process.

Business Development Companies – Should They Be a Part of Retirement Planning?

VCs, Angels, BDCs, what are they? How are they different? How can an ordinary investor get involved? Do they offer an opportunity for high yield dividend payouts during retirement? These are all questions that anyone planning for retirement should know the answers to in order to have the opportunity to include one of the least understood, and highest dividend paying, categories into their portfolio as part of a diversified plan for retirement.

Venture Capitalists (VCs), Angels (accredited investors), and Business Development Companies (BDCs) essentially fulfill the same role: to help small and medium sized companies obtain financing when more traditional means of funding (bank loans) are unavailable. Bank financing almost always requires a certain amount of guarantees such as accounts receivable, inventory, buildings or equipment or other assets that can be held as collateral for a loan or line of credit. Smaller companies, start-ups, or even individuals with an idea for a business, or medium sized companies that don’t have sufficient funds to grow their business often don’t have the capital required, nor do they have the requisite assets or accounts receivable required by traditional banks to meet their strict loan requirements. This is where Angels, VCs, and BDCs come in. Angels are regulated by the SEC and must be “accredited investors” with a net worth of at least $1,000,000 in order to get involved with a private placement of stock which means that they provide funds for a smaller company and in return own a percentage of the business. VCs are generally partnerships of accredited investors that provide the same type of funding. In addition, they often offer other “incubator” type services to help their portfolio companies to prosper, frequently including the placement of their own management personnel on the board of directors or on the management team. In the case of both Angels and private VC firms these activities are, by regulation, the realm of wealthy investors and beyond the reach of most individuals.

As part of a broad base attempt to level the playing field and give smaller investors an opportunity to become involved in growing smaller businesses, congress passed The Investment Company Act of 1940 which, among other things, created a new class of business called Business Development Companies. While similar to VCs in function, unlike VCs, Shares of BDCs are traded on the major exchanges, and anyone can own them. Similar to Real Estate Investment Trusts, BDCs do not pay income tax on their profits as long as they pass along at least 90% of their profits to their shareholders who then pay tax at their individual tax rates. Since they are required to pay out nearly all of their profits to stock holders, BDCs often fund their growth by issuing additional shares. When this occurs, a stockholder, or potential stock holder, must determine whether or not dilution, caused by the sale of the new shares, will be more than made up by the new business that the incoming money will fund. Generally a BDC will announce, at least in broad terms, how the proceeds from the new offering of stock will be used. Additionally, it is important to evaluate how successful the company has been in the past, how leveraged they are, and how management has reacted to changing market conditions. In other words, like any other investment, doing the proper due diligence, and knowing and understanding the company prior to investing is critical in making the right investment choices.

Because of the pass through tax structure as well as the inherent risk in this type of venture, BDCs typically pay significantly higher dividends than the average company. For that reason it makes good sense to consider them as a part of a diversified retirement portfolio. If you are building up a nest egg for retirement, dollar cost averaging into quality BDCs is an excellent way of creating a high yield position as part of your overall mix. If you are in retirement already, quality BDCs can provide an excellent income stream that will continue to payout regardless of market fluctuations.

A word of caution, BDCs should not be bought and forgotten, like most investments, past performance is no guarantee of future results. By the very nature of the business, BDCs frequently change their portfolio of businesses, may change their risk tolerance levels, may change their leverage, may be impacted by changes in interest rates, etc. Fortunately all of this type of information is readily available in annual and quarterly reports, and BDCs are required to publish any material changes in their business. With the proper due diligence, and appropriate vigilance, BDCs make sense for anyone interested in boosting their retirement income through higher dividends. They are especially valuable in IRAs and other tax free venues where the higher yields can compound free of taxation.

Lucrative Openings For Business Development Jobs

Business development jobs are immense these days. People are getting good offers from some of the best Companies as there is rising need for these jobs all over India. In actual terms, every business – big or small wants to have a business development manager to promote business and make new customers. This helps in increasing the return on investments and awareness about a particular business entity amongst clients and competitors.

Business development jobs are crucial jobs in the industry. This job requires complete understanding of the business and its development. People with experience in particular industry get jobs easily because of their professional approach to the business.

This job is suited for Marketing-oriented people who have good knowledge of market and understand the clients well. Every market entity needs business promotion, but due to recession, people had curbed their expenses and stopped hiring business development managers for their business promotion.

The recession phase is completely over and people are coming back to normal schedule of business. Therefore, the hiring of professionals has also begun. One who has more knowledge is placed at better positions as compared to fresher.

Business development jobs are crucial for the industry. An efficient Manager will take the business to greater heights and vice-versa. Therefore, care should be taken while selecting the right Business Manager for the firm. Business development jobs are as per business requirements. Therefore, person opting for this job must understand the implications before applying for it.

Business development job openings are available in almost every industry. This implies that anyone can get the job with proper experiences. The best way is to look into the online job site for the right job. These sites help in getting the right job at right place also. Suppose you are currently working in Mumbai and want a job in Delhi; then fill in Delhi as preferred location and get the best job options in Delhi.

Aspirants can log on to online job sites through internet and get the desired job options within a few days only. These job sites are quick to respond and provide excellent work opportunities to candidates.