Top U.K. Companies Still Reluctant to Use Online Transactions

[London, ENGLAND] According to a report from research firm ICM,
only just over half of the Times Top 1000 companies in the U.K.
have systems for either B2C or B2B online transactions.

ICM conducted the survey in December 2000 on behalf of interactive
consultancy Rubus, and was surprised to find such a low usage
level of electronic transactions by the biggest companies in
the land.

Only 15 percent of the top 1000 companies have developed a
formalized e-business strategy for 2001, according to the
researchers, while 35 percent admitted to being distracted
by other business matters deemed to have greater priority.

“The results are certainly surprising. It seems that whilst
companies recognize the potential benefits that e-business
will bring to their commercial operations, and are keen to
invest in it, they are failing to properly plan for it,” said
Michael Walton, chief executive of Rubus.

Walton said the research showed that the decision to get online
is not being met with appropriate strategies to get it right.
Inevitably, he said, this will mean that any investment in
e-commerce may not give companies the returns they expect.

“In a broader sense, a lack of properly implemented online
strategies will certainly damage U.K. plc,” observed Walton.

Just half of the companies surveyed had a dedicated head of
e-commerce or e-business on the payroll, even though 80
percent said they intended to exploit new interactive channels
this year. This is surely a case of management by wishful
thinking, as other techniques would appear to be ruled out
if there is no one in charge.

The Government has expressed its desire to make the
U.K. “the best place for e-commerce by 2002” — but the
latest ICM report will give it scant encouragement. Unless
business responds there is little that the Government can
do, other than lift any unnecessary restrictions that remain.

In the report, strong evidence is given to suggest a
north-south divide — with businesses in the north being
more inclined to allow other things to interrupt their
plans for e-business. 72 percent of northern businesses
admitted being distracted, compared to 33 percent in the
south.

In terms of industry sector, media and publishing leads
the way by adopting formalized e-business plans, although
the financial services sector has a higher percentage
(77 percent) of companies using the Internet as an integral
part of business operations.

But as for the general picture: enterprise wide e-business
in the U.K. has yet to take off.

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