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

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
Sixty percent do not yet have extranets linking operations with key suppliers
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

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
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

“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.”

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