UK IT directors lack the skills required to fully exploit the 'Net Economy,'forcing organisations to change the way they are run, according to a new report.
The survey from the Sun/Netscape Alliance, found that half the UK's IT directors believe they do not possess the skills needed to adapt to the rapid changes the Internet has brought to their current job.
While the majority of businesses know that the Internet can help them improve sales, they have no idea how to achieve that, said Guy Norgrove, director of the Sun/Netscape Alliance.
The definition of ecommerce is also changing, he said. Companies no longer just have to use the Web to bring their products to the mass market, they must also offer 'mass personalisation' by entering into direct relationships with their customers, said Norgrove.
"The speed and scope of the Internet is so fast, they are struggling to keep up," he said.
The research was conducted by Benchmark Research who interviewed 300 British board directors, 100 from each of IT, marketing and commercial departments.
More than half of the IT directors surveyed feel this lack of understanding of the Internet's potential is making their organisation miss out on business opportunities.
The report found that while more than three quarters of IT directors believe the Internet will enable them to broaden their role within the company, an alarming 75 per cent have no confidence that the management team has the skills to exploit the potential of the Internet as a competitive weapon.
"There is dissent in organisations as to who owns the Internet strategy," said Guy Norgrove, director of the Sun/Netscape Alliance. While 43 per cent of IT directors are responsible for their organisation's Internet strategy, only 25 per cent believe they should have control of it.
In addition, 40 per cent of all the respondents believe the managing director/board does not fully appreciate the potential impact of the Internet on their business.
Because of this, 62 per cent believe the only way to fully exploit the Internet is to make changes to the organisational structure of UK businesses. According to the report the impact of the Internet will mean that instead of being an isolated department, IT will play a central function across the whole organisation requiring all directors to acquire strategic understanding of IT.
As companies begin to open up their websites to customers, suppliers and partners, the IT department will have to be more externally focused. The IT function will be operated on a project basis incorporating business aware IT managers, said Norgrove. "There will be a blurring of roles, people will have to think outside the box," he said.
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