Delivering business strategy: the criticality of infrastructure
An amusing demonstration of the gap was by Victoria’s Secrets, a company selling women’s lingerie on the Internet. Its marketing department decided to run a TV advertising campaign during the US Superbowl in 1999. The advertisement pointed out that those logging on to the site could see Claudia Schiffer modelling underwear. The site attracted some 250 000 hits in the first hour with some 9 per cent making purchases averaging US$80, but then the site collapsed for three days, incurring a loss of some US$7.4 million in sales. It was revealed that the site was not developed to deal with anything like that volume, could not transfer prices quickly and had poor connections with inventory. Such infrastructure results from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ syndrome – designed to look impressive to the customer; in fact it is very frail and unimpressive behind the curtain. Unfortunately, all too many, even multinational, businesses could be described in this way.