Anyone can create a Web site. Unacceptable practice attracts comment, criticism and active opposition. At the same time the Internet has become the key to commercial success. It is a place to buy and sell. Organisations now have to fight for a presence in Internet Society.
If you are not part of the Internet Society, its freedoms and access to people and information is frightening. Its freedoms compared to most normal society is as great as between the old communist states and the West.
In repressive societies there is a form of whispered communication to pass on news and information. There is a parallel in Internet Society. I will expand on the idea that the Internet Society is made up from many communities but this structure means that these communities represent a variety of stakeholders.
Individuals can be signed up to many different stakeholder groups. An employee may be a shareholder and local neighbourhood citizen as well as a consumer. In each guise, the Internet facilitates stakeholder communication. The component of the Internet that acts as silent lubricant is e-mail. There are an estimated 7.3 billion commercial e-mail messages per day. Many of them are for personal messages. This represents 40 e-mails for every person on-line per day. By any standard, this is a tidal wave of information flowing round the world all the time.
Most netzines have and use e-mail access. Many people have more than one e-mail address (a home and a work address and sometimes more). To flash information round the world is simple and inexpensive. It can be sent, in the same time to dozens or even hundreds of recipients.
Combined with newsgroups, discussion lists, Bulletin Boards and chat, e-mail provides a the means by which any person or group of people can influence events as never before. With access to information from millions of sources and the search engines able to find it, every organisation is now porous in that its every activity can be and is exposed to public scrutiny. Once companies had control of what was said and believed about their activities. The marketing and PR departments and a few directors were the mouthpiece of the company. No longer. Now every stakeholder has, can and does provide knowledge and opinion freely. In addition anyone can create a Web site, they can have it hosted for free, can add discussion lists and chat to it, include campaigning banners at the click of a mouse and they do.
The alternative site for Charterhouse school represents a group of stakeholders Here is where traditional corporate culture and the Internet clash. Once managers were gatekeepers of information. Today they have to be facilitators of information dissemination. There is no defence mechanism behind which an organisation can protect itself from the influence of the Internet. No bulwark and no bunker protects the unprepared or ignorant. Today, one in five employees, suppliers’ employees, customers, shareholders, local citizen, politician and priest is available to comment and to act. Soon it will be two in five and then more.
The Internet is so pervasive that it offers organisation a franchise to go about its business unmolested for as long as the Internet Society finds its practices acceptable. Indeed, if its practices are to be applauded, the Internet Society will say so. Unacceptable practice attracts comment, criticism, active opposition, boycott and, without addressing the problem, disaster. Every decision and every action is now debated as though it is transparent and, if it cannot be transparently defended, then it will be attacked. This is true for big companies and small ones. The Internet is a global Hyde Park Corner, 24 hours a day, every day inside the factory and office.
At the same time the Internet has become the key to commercial success. It is a place to buy and sell. Organisations now have to fight for a presence in Internet Society. Like a sales monger in a mediaeval market, every company has to shout load and strong above the hubbub of a million other individuals and companies all clamouring for the attentions of Netzines. Every company needs a place where its stakeholders can find it. It needs to be distinguishable from millions like it. It needs strong branding and strong brand values. Internet brand equity is a goal to be sought, nurtured and maintained.