RealTime IT News

Report: Euro Execs Have Bad E-Commerce Attitudes

While the emerging electronic commerce industry is enjoying success in many areas, a recent study found that there is a surprising hesitancy among many European senior executives to embrace Internet-based business.

The study, conducted by Andersen Consulting, revealed that these attitudes may be jeopardizing the continent's long-term competitiveness.

While 82% of the executives surveyed believe that e-commerce will have a strategic impact on their businesses in the future, only 39% are taking steps today to incorporate e-commerce into their current operations and strategies. Furthermore, only 19% of European executives regard e-commerce as a serious competitive threat to their business today.

Participants cited similar reasons for their hesitancy. One-half of respondents believed a lack of consumer understanding of e-commerce is a problem. A majority of respondents viewed privacy, security, and the lack of a framework for commercial regulation as key barriers. More than 80% of executives also mentioned the need for governments to work together for a common international framework.

"In light of the obvious advantages to first-movers in the emerging electronic economy, European business is at a crossroads. We face a stark choice between two very different scenarios," said Rosemary O'Mahony, Andersen Consulting's managing partner-Technology for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.

"We could fulfill the promise of 'eEurope,' in which e-commerce fuels an explosion of trade, economic opportunity and job growth, or we could reach a dead-end, where a wait-and-see attitude allows the rest of the world to extend its lead in e-commerce and Europe finds itself stuck in an economic cul-de-sac."

The study found there are reasons to be optimistic, however. Currently, there are many successful e-commerce activities throughout Europe, and most countries also have technology, such as digital mobile telephony, to facilitate future e-commerce applications.

Andersen recommended in the study that businesses and governments should work together to improve Europe's attitude toward e-commerce. After all, it is a high-stakes industry. Worldwide e-commerce is currently estimated at about $10 billion and is expected to soar to $500 billion by 2002.