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U.S. Maintains Huge E-Commerce Lead Over Europe, Says Study

[London, ENGLAND] According to Andersen Consulting in its third annual study of the global e-commerce market, the U.S. is maintaining its huge lead despite "a growing wave of confidence in Europe."

For European e-commerce entrepreneurs, the figures make stark reading. In 1999, the U.S. generated 67 percent of global B2B e-commerce revenues and 76 percent of global B2C e-commerce revenues. Europe secured just 14 percent in both categories.

One finding that will come as no surprise is that the so-called "dot-corps" (a conveniently shorter epithet than "clicks-and-mortar") are now playing as big a role in e-commerce as the specialist dot-coms. Driven by fear -- fear of competition, fear being left behind -- the dot-corps are spending lavishly on e-commerce initiatives to secure their industry positions.

"Established businesses have ceased to be intimidated by e-commerce or star-struck by its pioneers. Certainly the last year has proven the advantages of strong brands, deep pockets, and managerial expertise," said Rosemary O'Mahony, Andersen Consulting's managing partner, technology, for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.

The Andersen study "Connecting the Dots?" is the result of extensive interviews with 600 senior executives in the U.S. and Europe.

One major trend it identifies is the convergence of the old and new economies. Researchers say that the sound business principles, experience and expertise of the old economy are beginning to mix with the agility and customer-responsiveness of the new.

For Europeans, one of the few encouraging aspects of the study is the emergence of what it calls "pockets of excellence." These "pockets" include the entire wireless Internet and digital TV industries where Europe currently has a substantial lead.

However, even where it leads, Europe could stumble, say the researchers. "Unless they can capitalize on that lead, Europeans could once again find that the business value of a technological advantage is lost to more dynamic competitors."

A skills shortage and a less favorable legal and business climate could cause further problems for European e-commerce, the study continues. More progress is needed in both the public and private sector if Europe is to compete effectively with the U.S.

The full study, published this week, is available to Andersen Consulting's clients.



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