This chapter examines the notion of how the success of a small business Web presence can be assessed. In doing so, there is initially a discussion of how a small business could classify its ICT expenses and attempt to match these outlays with any expected revenue streams. The latter part of the chapter, discusses the different approaches a small business operator can use to investigate and evaluate the success of its Web presence.
In previous chapters we have stressed that it is important to consider why any investment might be undertaken by a small business - an issue that needs to be considered reasonably early on in the decision-making process to adopt ICTs.
With respect to ICTs, the small business operator will predominantly invest in this type of technology allowing them to improve and enhance:
Communications: Provides a conduit to facilitate information and message flows between the business and important partners,
Operational efficiencies: Perhaps through lowering costs or delivery faster business processes),
Sales turnover: Potentially through added value, and/or
Information quality: That contributes to more informed decision making.
Clearly, the introduction of a Web presence, as an ICT, can assist the business in any or all of these noted areas. However, as we have previously encountered in the other chapters of the book, this all comes at a cost. There are obvious expenses, such as the direct cost of hosting and maintaining the Web presence, possible costs in relation to the amount of traffic that might be generated from being online and the cost of equipment (such as modems). There are also the less obvious expenses - such as the time taken by employees to maintain (update) content on the Web presence. As with other business expenditure, it is important to keep an eye on these expenses. Moreover, it is necessary to know the potential costs that can be incurred with a Web presence (such as costs for Website traffic) so that there are no unpleasant surprises after the Web presence has been implemented.
There are various reasons for keeping control of ICT expenditures in the small business environment - allowing the operator to have some idea of what the costs will be and importantly, having a means of measuring them. Some of these reasons are: