Engineering effective e-commerce e-commerce 4 What's NewS Issue 5 August/September 2000 Barely a day goes by without the release of a new e-commerce product by just about every industry. Financial services is no exception, and neither is Rabobank. While waves of products and services are beating at our Internet door, web- enabling and securing our offering is a tough proposition. In this 'e-special', we look at what's happening around the network. First, strategy - What's NewS talks to the small, but driven eCommerce team, who is working hard to navigate the sea of e-hype and anchor our future in this rapidly-changing market. Challenging market Innovating the network Developing expertise All around the network, teams are working hard to take advantage of the potential of e-business and increase RI's 'e-presence'. Several intiatives have al- ready set us on the path, inciuding our website, treasury markets' Rabo DealAssist and TreasuryWeb, vTrac- tion, New York's customer access pro gram (CAPS), and very recently, capital markets' (see related arti- cles). And toward year's end forex and money markets, documentary credits and payment systems are expected to enter the external e-market as well. But a crucial step remains - creating an international online framework for the corporate and finaneial markets. Len Steffen and Sabina Goertz are the forces navigating RI's next step into e-business - their eComnterce of fice has only been up and running since 1 May, but the team is quickly paving the Moving Rl ahead in e-commerce: Len Steffen way to a concrete and directed strategie plan. 'Right now everyone is looking into web-enabling exchanges, trade, and simi- lar transactions,' says Steffen, business manager of eCommerce. 'But what we first need to ask ourselves is how RI wants to position itself in this market. What products do our clients need? How are we going to package these services? These questions must be answered before exten- sive time, effort and money are invested into further e-business initiatives.' While it takes time to fully answer these complex questions, the world of e-com merce continues to develop at an alarming pace. Time is a hot commodity. 'The irony here,' Steffen explains, 'is if you sit back and plan step by step, you'11 always be be- hind. The environment created by e-cont- merce is about quick thinking - requiring fast and efficiënt decision-making. And of course, that also means we're faced with a number of challenges.' This is why the es tablishment of a strategie 'e-frantework' is so critical - with the right planning mech- anism in place, potential risks and losses in the e-marketplace are minimized while the great opportunities are optimized. In this new realm, traditional decision-mak ing models don't apply - 'given the time pressure and relative youth of this mar ket,' continues Steffen, 'choices have to be made on the basis of vision, rather than as fully worked out business plans. What this means is a highly selective, focused, committed and above-all controlled ap- proach for the short and long term.' At this point, this entails web-enabling some basic transactions, such as documentary credits and transfers, treasury products and cross-border payments. Whatever the final strategy will be, these basic building blocks are necessary to get Rl moving in e-business. So how are we deciding what needs to be done? How will Rl stay ahead of the game? In some ways, it's business as usual. There's some great potential in the power of web-enabled transactions, but the key is using e-commerce to add value to our existing business. 'What people sometimes fail to realize," explains Steffen, 'is that the finaneial business itself hasn't changed. We're still working with the same principles - money continues to move frorn point "A" to "B". E-business doesn't change that.' An online transac tion between buyers and sellers is really no more than a very rapid exchange of e- mails. The real infrastructural change, the vision, is the developntent of new prod ucts, tools, and services that will offer something uniquelv different to the e-mar ketplace, and of course, to the cliënt. Deciding just what 'uniquelv different' means requires a deep and thorough understanding of the needs in the e-mar ketplace. To do this, Steffen and Goertz are in close contact with several top-tier clients to develop pi lot programs. Working with individual customers who want to participate in online exchanges with the bank, the eCommerce team identifies a client's needs and then links into RI's vast knowledge network to find the necessary finaneial and technical support. 'We're not creating the prod ucts here,' explains Steffen. 'Our role is to be project facilitators - linking the customer, the product people, and the technical staff - to ultimately bring the pilot to its online destination.' Tapping into RI's and Rabobank Nederland's re source base in this way has proved a useful and insightful process - not only by speeding the process to online com- patihilitv, but also in identifying gaps - where additional work and development are needed. 'We piek up a certain spec trum of market requirements,' Steffen adds, 'and it's our responsibility to make sure that these market needs are being met by market management. We not only want to insure that the cooperation is taking place to make it happen - but it's essential that this message is commu- nicated: we must tap into the potential of e-business now.'

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

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