RealTime IT News

Survey: Global Business Lagging on E-Commerce

A new survey of larger corporations finds that global businesses are lagging on the e-commerce front, with 79 percent of the companies surveyed reporting that e-business accounts for less than 5 percent of revenues.

The E-Business Outlook survey, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and The Conference Board, was designed to find out how global businesses are actually measuring up as successful e-businesses.

The companies polled were heavy hitters -- 90 percent of those surveyed have annual revenues of $1 billion or more, half with sales north of $5 billion. They represent the manufacturing, financial services, transportation, retail, energy, and communications industries and virtually all conduct business in international markets.

So how are they doing, e-commerce-wise? Ummm, not so hot, it seems.

The survey found that only 28 percent are able to process transactions online. Sixty percent do not yet have extranets linking operations with key suppliers and financial partners.

Only 17 percent of companies said they regard themselves as "innovative" in e-business. Less than half have any quantitative or qualitative methods in place to assess e-business performance. And a quarter of the group has yet to move beyond basic Web brochureware in implementing e-business.

One of the biggest disparities was between stated e-business needs and corresponding investment: For instance, only 25 percent of survey respondents said they plan to invest significantly in improving online procurement, even though this was identified as a top priority.

Most still feel encumbered by major barriers to development, including costs of implementation, lack of proven benefits and accepted industry standards, and more pressing corporate priorities, plus not being up to speed on key privacy, security, legal and emerging intellectual property issues.

Still, a majority said they were investing far more on e-business now than a year ago, and devoting much greater senior management oversight into e-efforts. Nearly half of the participants have full-time e-business development units, another marked increase over last year's survey.

"It's important to remember that despite how quickly e-business has changed the landscape, it's still a new paradigm, especially for large organizations," said Cathy Neuman, deputy global E-Business leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"It's not surprising that even the most enlightened companies may be facing disconnects with their e-initiatives. "Global corporations have committed so much time and energy in establishing their Web presences -- the encouraging thing is that most seem genuinely ready to move into the next frontier of integration and convergence."