Back to the future Featured

11:55am EDT May 31, 2002

How quickly it went from savior of the economy to a four-letter word. But set aside the dot-com crash for a moment and instead look at the positive impact technology has had on business.

By affecting the way we communicate, technological advancements have fundamentally changed the way business is done. E-mail has altered the speed with which we're able to disseminate information and stay in contact with colleagues, suppliers, customers and investors. And although technology hasn't shrunk the workday, it has significantly increased productivity.

In SBN's first eBusiness guide in May 1998, we wrote that implementing technology for technology's sake was a sure-fire way to doom your venture, not to mention waste money. Technology and eBusiness, we wrote, should be viewed as tools to make your company more efficient, lower overhead and increase your bottom line. That remains true today.

This month's eBusiness guide, labeled "Tapping Technology," examines a handful of Northeast Ohio businesses that understood how to get the most out of their technology investment.

Progressive Insurance, for example, invested heavily in its initiative. The company's Web site offers consumers not only the opportunity to benchmark its products and services against competitors -- a first in its industry -- but also to pay bills online.

From accurate data collection and management to tracking auto parts to the automation of a dentist's practice, you'll read how and why proper implementation of technology is a valuable tool for competing and thriving in the fast-paced world of business.

SBN's cover story on Lincoln Electric offers another example. The traditional, old-line manufacturing giant arrived in the 21st century with a bang. But it was not as simple as launching an eBusiness initiative.

First, Lincoln had to change its culture. That cleared the way for machinery upgrades, enterprisewide software implementation, process improvements and, finally, an aggressive eBusiness solution.

With manufacturers facing tougher market conditions, Lincoln could have ended up one of Cleveland's disaster stories. Instead, its initiatives have sent it in a different direction. Such are the nuances of taking calculated risks.

And don't forget, we're always interested in hearing about yours.