Ebusiness systems are difficult to implement, viewed with suspicion internally and need adequate resourcing to succeed, a survey of users reports.
The User Group's tenth annual survey indicates that some 65 per cent of respondents have ebusiness projects either fully operational (41 per cent) or at the trial stage.
While only 27 per cent said the initiatives were controlled by board members, 52 per cent complained that implementing ebusiness systems had been hard, while 55 per cent said such projects had been viewed by suspicion by co-workers. Adequate resourcing was the biggest factor in getting plans off the ground, however.
But users who managed to get their ebusiness projects to work experienced reduced costs, improved time to market, better customer retention and a shorter sales cycle as being the main benefits.
Some 80 per cent of those questioned also said the cost of implementating an extranet had been acceptable and estimated they had made savings of between 10 and 25 per cent.
But less than one in ten firms believed that any more than half of their customers bought their products online. More than a quarter had no online customers at all, and just 13 per cent said they undertook more than half of their own corporate procurement online.
Staff mainly use the web to research market data and find information on corporate competitors, but employers' biggest worry is that personnel are simply wasting time - two out of five firms cited staff time-wasting as the major concern of giving employees access to the web.
Knowledge management systems are given the thumbs down, however, as they are regarded as expensive to deploy, too easily disrupted by internal politics and distracting to the firm's busiest people, who are required to provide the greatest input into building the system.
Instead, The User Group said businesses are evaluating online chat facilities and XML because they may be the next killer business applications. Online chat is reported as a happy unobtrusive medium between phone and email, while XML is also highly regarded.
Of other emerging technologies, Voice over IP, WAP, virtual private networks, Linux and internet appliances were being examined by more than three-quarters of those surveyed, while Bluetooth and wireless LANs were favoured by more than 50 per cent.
Less than half of the respondents said they were considering peer-to-peer, IPV6 or the SMIME mail protocol, however.
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