Felice Kincannon

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"My mission is to be a facilitator to help each of these six companies develop their business."

Felice Kincannon

Advertising age, 07/14/97

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In the world of late 1990s i-shops, Felice Kincannon was the Clive Davis who brought together the best talent. After spending 15 years in the ad business and then working as an interactive media consultant, Ms. Kincannon, 52, became managing director of Omnicom Group's i-shop-focused Communicade, presiding over young, entrepreneurial companies with billion-dollar-plus market caps. Those companies-Agency.com, Organic, Razorfish, Red Sky Interactive and Think New Ideas-were supposed to help change the world.

But she doesn't waste any time wondering why it didn't turn out that way. "You had venture capital money funding a lot of start-ups," she says. "You had large corporations feeling as if they had to scramble to catch up with what was going on with the Web, and companies like Razorfish and Organic growing simply to meet demand."

Now, as a co-founder of Marketspace, a part of the Cambridge, Mass.-based Monitor Group, she works with clients to integrate business strategy with technology. The basic job may be the same, but Ms. Kincannon sees it with new eyes. The current era, she says, is about "how you define success."

But, she hastens, there won't be a one-size-fits-all definition, and cautions people about such trendy acronyms as ROI (return on investment) and CRM (customer relationship management) that have become a sort of new economy Holy Grail. "I think [success] needs to be customized company by company, just as in the offline world there are certainly standards, but within those each company has its own particular way of evaluating whether it's going well or not," she says. "I think within ROI there are more discrete metrics-understanding the lifetime value of a customer is probably the most valuable metric that a company can understand."

Ms. Kincannon also believes that CRM doesn't go far enough and is focused in exactly the wrong direction. "The problem that we have with CRM right now is it's a really firm-centric structure and not really a customer-centric structure," she contends.

For businesses to be successful on the Web, she believes they must start to think more in terms of consumer behavior. "If you look at the rate of adoption of the Web, the rate of adoption of instant messaging, it's clear that the consumer population is inclined to the use of interactive media." But, she adds, "I think that we have more of a learning curve to go up in terms of encouraging that between a firm and their customers."

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