Survey: Senior Management Lacks E-Biz Savvy

SINGAPORE (04/04/2000) - Senior management in Singapore is the key impediment to e-business implementation, according to a survey conducted by Compuware Corp. Asia-Pacific and Interactive On-Line (IKO). Despite the current excitement surrounding business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce, which is expected to be more significant than business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, the study found that organizations were at different stages of awareness and readiness.

The survey covered more than 160 representatives from several major Singapore industries, where the respondents were from varied management levels.

According to the study, 34 percent of the traditional businesses have identified "lack of management knowledge and commitment" as the key obstacle to e-business implementation. The other inhibitors include "lack of strategy and vision" and "organizational complexity."

These findings indicate that businesses are having difficulties in understanding the changing business landscape and formulating a relevant strategy to e-business, said Aseem Prakash, chief executive officer, Interactive On-Line.

Combined with the lack of a common definition of e-commerce, Singapore companies are facing a great deal of difficulty developing a strategy for e-commerce implementation," Prakash said.

In free-form answers, the respondents were found to have inconsistent definitions of e-business, which could make it difficult to achieve a common understanding within the organization, and with its supply chain partners.

While Singapore companies understand the benefits of e-commerce from a customer service and relationship management perspective, they lack a direction in developing a strategy to move forward, noted Peter Pritchard, marketing director, Compuware Asia-Pacific.

The study also found that improving relationships with customers is the top challenge facing companies, followed by implementing e-business solutions and achieving cost competitiveness. In terms of achieving return on investment on e-business investments, "extending the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) or legacy applications", and joining e-business trading hubs were identified as the preferred models of B2B e-commerce.

According to Prakash, this represents a shift in thinking, where e-business trading hubs were not highly visible a year ago. In terms of the implementation status of B2B e-commerce among local companies, 25 percent of the respondents have already implemented, while the majority or 32 percent are at the strategy development stage, and 13 percent at the application development stage. About 29 percent have future plans for B2B e-commerce, while a significant 9 percent have no such plans.

Compuware and IKO have used the findings of the survey to put together a corporate planner that aims to provide a practical framework for developing B2B e-commerce strategy and action plan.

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