Master of your domain

Encouraging news for CEOs - 82% of companies think they're less important than a good web address...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

According to a survey by web specialists Sedo, four-fifths of respondents said that losing their domain name would be more damaging than losing their CEO – while 72% said getting the right online address in the first place was more important than getting the right office or even the right staff. Sounds like the kind of attitude that all those failed dotcoms had at the start of the decade...

On the other hand, it’s true that companies are now desperate to get their hands on memorable addresses – as shown by the huge sums paid for exclusive domain names like vodka.com and sex.com whenever they come onto the market. As we do more and more of our shopping, socialising and information-gathering online, companies with a prominent web presence have a big head-start on the competition.

Equally, if your online address is one letter removed from some depraved pornography site, you might end up scaring off a few potential clients or customers. ‘An unsuitable domain name strategy can spell the end for a start-up or growing business,’ says Sedo’s Nora Nanayakkara. ‘We’ve seen companies flounder purely on account of having an inappropriate web address.’

So should CEOs be worried that they’ve sunk so far in the estimation of the workforce? Well, we should probably throw in a few caveats here. Sedo’s business is selling domain names, so it’s not exactly a disinterested witness. What’s more, the survey was carried out at the Internet World show in London – and it seems likely that any company that attends a conference like this is (by definition) likely to be quite preoccupied with their online presence...

On the other hand, maybe this disdain is linked to some findings by Maxxim Consulting about the typical FTSE350 head office. You might think this was the strategic nerve centre of the organisation – but according to Maxxim, in most cases more than 50% of head office staff are working solely on compliance. And even more alarmingly, only 20% of CEOs actually knew either how many people worked in their head office, or how much it cost to run. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?

Maxxim argues that head office shouldn’t be taking compliance responsibility away from the business units – it should be setting strategic direction and providing support services. If CEOs can pull that off, maybe their companies will start valuing them more than their web address...

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