Techknow: Net heads

Techknow: Net heads - NAME: MARGARET SMITH

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

NAME: MARGARET SMITH

POSITION: DIRECTOR E-COMMERCE, LEGAL & GENERAL

WEB SITE: WWW.LANDG.COM

Margaret Smith has more than 20 years' experience of working in IT for a variety of blue-chip companies. For the past 12 years she has worked for Legal & General. Her present role was created in January 1998.

Q: When did you become interested in the internet?

A: Seven years ago it became apparent that internet development deserved more than a watching brief. Fortunately, there were a few employees at Legal & General who believed fervently in the growth of the internet, and its web site was launched two years later, in 1995.

Q: How much time do you spend surfing each day?

A: At least a couple of hours a day. I don't surf as such - it's more like web skiing. I get regular e-mails pointing me to sites, and I get other addresses from magazines and posters. From there, I go to other links that look interesting.

Q: Which sites do you use each week?

A: I regularly look at landg.com throughout the day - with over 900 pages it is constantly changing. I also look at competitor sites, and any new ones mentioned in the press or by our internal MarketWatch. In addition, I use various government and industry sites to keep up to speed with e-business initiatives.

Q: Who are your advisors?

A: Ernst & Young has contributed on a regular basis to the development of our internet strategy. For site design we have worked with Blacksun and more recently BSG to develop sites for our network of estate agency business partners.

Q: What is your company's web strategy?

A: Internet developments continue to focus on supporting Legal & General's business-to-business strategy. Volume sales of financial services products over the internet are still some way off. However, we constantly monitor consumer acceptance and in September 1999 responded to increased interest in customers wanting access to on-line services with a number of business-to-consumer initiatives. Customers want to be in control of managing their financial planning and wish to deal with us in a variety of ways - internet, telephone, face-to-face - at work or in their home. With the introduction of new financial products such as Stakeholder pensions, we believe there will be an increased need to provide e-financial planning solutions in the workplace.

Q: What are the most significant changes the internet will bring about?

A: People will be able to educate themselves much more easily than in the past, using the net to improve understanding and awareness. Consumers will be less reliant on experts and so will choose when they need help. When they do, they will expect higher levels of service, whether this is shopping delivered to your workplace at the time you dictate or booking a restaurant, cab and theatre tickets in one transaction for an evening out. The challenge will be to make internet sites interesting and fun, as well as educational, so the use of interactive technology such as cameras, video and sound will increase.

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