Frank Remarks: The RAF and ROI
The other night I was watching my favorite cable networkthe History Channel. The show I was watching had to do with World War IIin particular, the Battle of Britain. Shortly thereafter, my wife, prepared for an evening of Frazier, came face-to-face with Spitfires and the Luftwaffe. Seeing the carnage occurring on the TV screen, she complained that she couldn't fathom my fascination with WW II. I told her that it was history that fascinated me, but unfortunately, most of human history dealt with war.
She didn't buy it, and strongly encouraged me to switch to Frazier.
Licking my wounds, I surrendered the remote and sulked off to the bedroom, where I resumed watching the British RAF, outnumbered 10 to 1, beat back the Nazi onslaught in the skies. Besides filling an hour of my time, the show got me thinking about a recent report from the Yankee Group about doing business on the Net.
According to the report, there was quite a bit of apathy shown by executives towards the Internet. The report showed that the number of Internet strategists who believe their bosses don't consider the web important to business strategy has doubled over the past year. It seems the executives weren't getting the ROI they expected from their online strategy. They blamed the Internet for this problem, but the real problem was with them. The executives were making the same mistake that the Luftwaffe made. They didn't understand that they were fighting not just planes and pilots, but a first-of-its-kind type of integrated strategy.
I'll come back to that in a minute. First, back to history.
The Battle of Britain
Why did the RAF win the Battle of Britain? Was it because, for the first time since their Blitzkrieg through France, the Luftwaffe faced a modern air force with modern weapons? Or was it the few, gutsy Spitfire and Hurricane pilots who rose to the skies to face overwhelming odds?
These were important factors that led to the British victory, but there were more factorsmany more. There was an organization behind the pilots, the aircraft, and the courage. Coordination and planning ultimately won the battlein other words, an integrated strategy. The same type of strategy needed for businesses to succeed on the Net today.
I'll explain. By weaving together a set of early warning tactics, the RAF would know when and where the Luftwaffe were going to strike. The British understood the strategic importance of a new technology: radar. An extensive system of radar towers was built, so overlapping radar coverage surrounded southern England. But that wasn't all. The British organized a band of volunteer citizens to spot planes and report the type and numbers of enemy aircraft flying overhead. The radar towers and plane spotters were connected by telephone to a series of command centers. These reports were transferred to large maps at Fighter Command HQ, giving the British a clear picture of the Nazi attack. With this information, the RAF was sent exactly where and when they were neededand the rest is history.