The Web Doesn’t Always Matter

For some businesses and industry sectors, the Web just isn’t that important. Yet. Why?

Those of us engaged in the Web everyday sometimes wonder how we ever got things done before. We live and breathe email, blogs and blog ourselves and are active on at least Twitter if not another microblog platform. Then there’s the marketers that are increasingly driving budget spend towards Web initiatives and trying to understand Social Media. A question by Beth Harte last night on Twitter got me to thinking and inspired this posts…hat tip to Beth, she often asks some good questions!

So what businesses or sectors may not find much relevance with the Web? Beth went on to say “can you think of any business that isn’t online or is never searched for online?” It’s a good question and feeling somewhat ornery, I had to think on it. Here’s my take…what’s yours?
I differentiate between “searched for” and having a presence online. I see them as separate, since something is more than likely being searched for, but may not be online.
In Nova Scotia a past main industry was fishing, but it is far less today than it was. A friend of mine was making a documentary last year and needed to find a commercial fisherman. He searched and searched online…nothing. And Nova Scotia is a VERY connected province in online terms. He had to use good ol’ human networking. Then there’s the local shoe-shop I was in recently and blogged about…he really doesn’t need a website. Similarly there’s a biotech company I know in Boston who has no website; they know their customers, are profitable and see no need for a presence.
The areas I find less likely to be online are older, very local businesses. Mostly because the Web is only just starting to get very local. This is slightly different in major urban areas, but rural areas still lack good Web access, thus preventing them from being engaged with the benefits of the Web. This however, will change. In addition, the Web generation is getting older and taking on management positions and bringing those businesses more into the Web era.
As Web access in rural areas becomes more available, and localization of the Web increases, businesses will need to become more engaged. Some won’t (I recall an export business in Halifax in 2003 that was still using rotary dial phones in banks…yup. They were forced to change by the Telco who could no longer support analog phone service, but they have no Web presence) and they will lose business to competitors over time.
Yet many businesses that are online don’t really get engaged even still, they have a brochure website that is rarely if ever updated. Hence companies like GoDaddy who provide basic websites and do very well with small businesses. They are perhaps, a stepping-stone Web service. But for loggers, labour companies and some traditional sector businesses like mining, the Web still provides no significant value proposition, or no one has been able to make a valid case to them. Yet.
Am I missing something? What’s your thought?

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