Founded in May 1999, Epinions is an online buying guide that offers honest consumer reviews on over 150,000 products and services. Epinions also offers links to the Web's best professional reviews and shopping resources. The company's mission is to help people make better the right buying decisions. Epinions provides real advice, ratings, and reviews by employing the expertise of consumers who have used the products and services. Epinions' main areas of differentiation are:
Web of Trust. Epinions has developed a technology that helps consumers sort out information. Relevant opinions and product recommendations are chosen for consumers based upon their Web of Trust.
The Right Incentives. Epinions' content is demand driven. Users are encouraged to create content that people need. Eroyalties, Epinions reward currency, credits reviewers' efforts and match supply with demand.
Real Advice from Real People. Epinions does not edit reviews. Consumers share their experiences, both good and bad.
Transparency. Using an automated peer review mechanism, users are able to quickly disregard certain members' advice due to a history of poor review quality.
Epinions is entering into a critical growth phase. Currently, the organization is structured to support each product channel with one "Category Manager" (CM). As Epinions expands its site's content, the current organizational structure will not support the direction of the expansion. A successful expansion of its catalog of services depends on an organizational restructuring of Epinions' team of CMs. Epinions is considering adding new product categories and investing in its current businesses without increasing its staff cost. Consequently, the key issue is to redefine the new role of CMs relative to new product category or market additions.
Our process for analyzing the restructuring problem faced by Epinions, consisted of familiarizing ourselves with the company, its organizational structure, growth history, and...