IT/Web Analysis
Chad Elkins, Anna Kaziunas, Ronald D. Willis
Purpose of the Website

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (BCC) website was designed for two purposes: The first purpose is to provide effective and efficient online communication and to deliver up-to-date information for members. The second is to make the staff members more productive by using technology to make their member update and event registration tasks less time consuming. These improvements to the website will allow staff members to concentrate on the goals of the organization. Currently, the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website gives basic information about the organization and the Bloomington community and details the benefits of joining the Chamber. In addition to basic organizational information the website also contains a listing of its current members along with a brief description of each member.

Maintenance of this information can be tedious since part of the website is static and the other is dynamic. Instead of having members call the Chamber to update their information, the Chamber staff would like for this to be done online by the members themselves. This will certainly save time and effort for the Chamber as they would have more time to tackle non-Web-related issues.

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Major Stakeholders and Their Goals

There are two major stakeholders in the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. The first stakeholder is the board of directors. The board of directors is responsible for the long-term list of Chamber goals. The board wishes to make sure that these goals are effectively and efficiently communicated by the website. In addition, the board also wishes to use the website as a promotional tool that will enable the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce to meet its long-term goals. Ultimately, the board of directors wants accurate and timely information placed the website.

The second stakeholder group is made up of the businesses that are current Chamber members. The members keep the organization going and without these members there would be no need for a Chamber of Commerce in Bloomington. The members are interested in receiving accurate information about the Chamber and having their businesses accurately represented on the website. Ultimately, the members want a website that will allow them to easily maintain their member status and also allow them to quickly and efficiently find accurate information about the Bloomington business community.

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Website Organizational Integration

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website is currently used as a major referral source within the community. The BCC often uses the website as a point of further reference when fielding questions about the organization and the benefits of membership. The website also contains a listing (or membership directory) of Chamber members. Lastly, the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website is used to promote the existence and relevance of the organization to Bloomington business community.

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Website Audience

There are three major audiences of the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce website: current members, prospective members and the general public. Current members view the Chamber site in order to find out about upcoming events and promotional member benefits. Current members will also view the site in order to make sure that that their membership information is up-to-date and to find information about other members.

The second audience is the prospective members. Prospective members are much like current members in that they will view the website in order to find out general information and upcoming events within the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce. In addition, prospective members will research information about current members. A major difference between the prospective and the current member is that prospective members are mostly interested in membership benefits and general information concerning the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

The third audience for the site is the general public. The general public consists of any individual looking for information about the Bloomington business community. The general public uses the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce site as a research tool in order to find out information about the community and its businesses. The general public can use the site to locate area businesses that serve or relate to their needs. The general public views the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce as a reliable and trustworthy source of business information.

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In-house? Outsourced?

Most of the work pertaining to the previous development of the Chamber website was outsourced. The current website was developed by a college student. The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce's hardware maintenance is taken care of by an outside company. The hosting of the website is through HoosierNet and Kiva Networking supplies the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce with a secure socket layer (SSL). Currently, the Chamber website does not utilize SSL, but if they wish to implement the ability to purchase online memberships and event registration securely, this technology will come into play. The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce's database needs are handled by IRM, a company located in Canada.

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Infrastructure

The BCC website is currently being hosted on Intel-based servers running Linux and Apache Web Server. One server is used to handle server requests for HTML and images; however, when a server request involves server-side scripting, it is sent to another server for processing. This arrangement is designed to avoid bogging down the main server in the case of faulty scripts (e.g., infinite loops) or possible denial of service attacks.

Bloomington Chamber of Commerce has the capability to readily develop a dynamic website using open source technology. The middleware technologies available include Perl, PHP and Python; with MySQL as the relational database management system.

As of spring break, the http://chamber.bloomington.in.us is using 3.1MB of its 10MB web space (31%) The BuyChamber.com website has its own separate web space, and is only consuming 451K of its 10MB web space. Though the web space seems meager when compared to other e-commerce website, it can be inferred that the bulk of the BCC content is going to be dedicated to their database.

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Staff Roles and Responsibilities Related to the Website

Currently, the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce does not employ any full-time IT personnel. The reasoning behind the lack on IT personnel is due to the minimal usage of IT within the organization. The Chamber does not see the need for a full-time IT staff and wishes to concentrate it efforts toward long-term organizational goals such as membership retention and business-related community involvement. The only responsibility held by an in-house staff member is to update the existing pages of the website. This job is held by Sara McGoun, the Director of Programs. Sara updates the contextual information on the website using Dreamweaver 4.0 or FrontPage 2000 (preferably Dreamweaver) and she admits to having little technical expertise pertaining to HTML and web development. She also stated that the current website was confusingly constructed, which inhibits her from updating certain pages within the website.

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Annual Costs of Maintaining the Website

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce was unaware of the annual costs associated with maintaining the website at the time of our interview. The only financial information divulged related to the website was that money is available through the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce capital investment account to upgrade the existing website to a level that will benefit the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce's long-term needs.

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Last updated on 4/12/2009 12:34 PM

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