Europe can learn from US dot-com failures

Although Europe won't escape the effects of the US economic slowdown, the scene in the US presents a learning opportunity for the Europeans, according to market research firm Gartner Group.

"European businesses have a chance to learn from the mistakes made by their counterparts in the US," said Gartner's President Bill McDermott here Wednesday in his opening keynote at the Gartner Europe Spring Symposium/ITxpo 2001.

"This is a globally connected world, it is only a matter of time for the effects in the US to ripple to Europe," he said, noting that Europe won't be hit as hard as the US.

Robert Lloyd, president of Cisco Systems Inc. EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division, speaking here at the Gartner conference, agreed. "In Europe the downturn is not as dramatic," he said.

McDermott's comments echoed recent statements by industry leaders. Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carly Fiorina said last week that HP is "not optimistic that Europe will be immune from the economic slowdown." One day later, however, French servers and services company Groupe Bull SA deflected concerns that the US economic slowdown will spread to Europe. Gartner's McDermott cautioned against the doom and gloom merchants. "We sit today deep in the trough of electronic business disillusionment. Consequently many companies have decided that this is a prudent time to greatly scale back, or even to completely suspend IT investment," he said.

A wrong decision, he argued.

"The simple truth is that the companies that are destined to succeed over the next decade are the companies that are today finding methods for integrating Internet technology and business models into their core business. Over the next ten years successful IT investment strategy and deployment will be your company's best weapon for enhancing corporate performance," he said.

"This is not the time to suspend IT investment. Growing economic pressure dictates that investments must be carefully targeted. These investments therefore must be relentlessly focused on the business processes that matter most to your company's bottom line. They must include revenue generation as well as cost control," he said.

Corporations will have to learn and adopt new ways of working with IT suppliers, said McDermott. "But you must not let economic uncertainty or disillusionment with electronic business delay your efforts," he said.

Gartner's Europe Spring Symposium/ITxpo 2001, in Florence, Italy, runs through Friday. Further information can be found at http://www.gartner.com/.

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