Senior executives have finally realised that the Internet has an impact on the whole company strategy and must not be viewed as merely a technology issue.
According to a report from consultants Booz Allen & Hamilton and the Economist Intelligence Unit, nearly 600 of the world's business leaders understand that in order for their businesses to compete in the digital age, they must completely reshape their business strategies, business models and processes.
The report, Competing in the Digital Age: How the Internet will Transform Business found that 92 per cent of respondents believe the Internet will reshape the world marketplace by as early as 2001.
Just over 60 per cent said the Internet will better enable them to achieve their strategic goals and 30 per cent said the Internet is already forcing them to overhaul their strategies.
Analysts have warned company chief executives that they must get involved in the Internet activities of their and not just leave it to the IT department. To fully exploit the Web it must be integrated with all back end systems and processes and this requires a complete overhaul of business strategy.
"Business around the globe is moving fast to meet the challenges of the Internet," said Charles Callahan, of Booz Allen & Hamilton. "We assumed some degree of business sector or regional variation in this trend but actually found all participants saying 'yes' to a rethink of business strategy, business models and processes."
The news from the report is good with businesses, though initially slow to realise the Web's full potential, now appear eager to do whatever is needed to reap the benefits.
The report found that the executives are not going into this unaware of the considerable investment needed and that it is a risk worth paying for. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents don't expect to see any payoff before 2001, but 28 per cent said they are already seeing a payoff.
Business leaders also confirmed that the Internet would shape the way they deal with customers and suppliers, with 61 per cent planning to have their own Extranet in place by 2001.
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