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RealTime IT News

U.K. Government Hires JWT to Study Internet Businesses

[London, ENGLAND] The Department of Trade and Industry has appointed J. Walter Thompson's new economy brand consultancy, digital@jwt, to profile Internet businesses in the U.K.

The move is the first stage in the Government's three-part Internet Mentoring Initiative, a US $7.8 million spend which it hopes will result in the capability to give advice to Internet-based businesses.

The study will be the first of its kind in the U.K., where the DTI holds extensive data on traditional industries but relatively little related to the new economy. Armed with the findings, the DTI expects to be better equipped to advise Internet companies on issues such as "best practice and routes to success."

In such a fast-moving industry, however, there is always a danger is that conditions will shift radically just as researchers are reaching their conclusions. If they are still in business in 2001, many Internet companies may have learned more about their respective markets in recent years than the Government can discover in a few weeks.

The DTI says its chief aim is to identify the critical success and failure factors that are responsible for shaping the Internet industry today. It also plans to research size, nature, growth patterns and segmentation -- all with the objective of helping Internet businesses survive difficult market conditions.

As to what constitutes "an Internet business," the DTI defines it as one that uses the Internet as its main route to market for at least 50 percent of its business. Allcomers are included, not only pureplay dotcoms, but offline businesses that are switching to online trading, and Internet start-ups -- whether or not they are already trading.

Patricia Hewitt MP, Minister for Small Business and e-Commerce, explained that it is difficult for Internet companies to thrive in the knowledge economy if they lack the right market information.

"The Internet Mentoring Initiative gives us the opportunity to create an environment which embraces and nurtures Internet entrepreneurs in this fast-evolving sector," said Hewitt.

digital@jwt will lead the project, but is being helped by two other companies. HPI Research will conduct original research and Clever Media will provide technical support to distribute the findings via the Internet.

Among digital@jwt's other clients are NTL, Telegraph.co.uk, Shell, Post Office Counters, KeepUpdated, Kraft, Deloitte and Touche, Kellogg, Sun Microsystems.