The more senior executives are in their organisations, the less likely they are to use the Internet. Although they blame this on the slowness of the Net, it may also be because they are failing to develop the skills required to use the Internet productively.
These are some of the conclusions from a survey of US users by the American Management Association, which are borne out by European and US findings by Zona Research. More than half of those on management grades use the Internet for only two or three hours a week, and then mainly to pick up email messages remotely rather than to search for information.
"Executives tend to view the Internet as a library of contemporary information. They have other people to do the actual research for them," said Joel Tomaneng of Zona. This means many senior managers lack the abiltiies to surf through information logically and make the best use of the Net.
This highlights a broader lack of skills among managers, which may slow up the much-vaunted move towards 'do it yourself' decision support tools, which enable users to create queries and analyse information on the fly, via the Web, rather than requesting reports from IT departments or specialist researchers.
As younger people move into senior roles the problem will lessen, believes Zona. Currently, those rare senior managers who spend more than 10 hours a week online for business purposes are typically female and under 35, and often work in computer- or research-related fields anyway.
Other executive problems with the Net include concerns about security and slowness of access. "It takes time to find things over the Internet and managers don't want to take time," said Tomaneng.
Of the managers surveyed by the AMA, 53 per cent logged on for less than four hours a week, 34 per cent never used the Internet in the office and 39 per cent did not use it at home. The average time spent accessing the Net for business purposes is 10.5 hours a week,
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