Study: executive Web use may spur e-commerce

Senior-management support for electronic commerce may get a boost as top corporate executives around the world log on to the Internet more frequently, according to an Andersen Consulting survey.

Andersen surveyed more than 1700 executives at Fortune 1000 companies (or their equivalents) as well as leading government entities in 24 countries. What Andersen found is that senior executives in the world's major markets are going online more often and are becoming more comfortable using the Internet. For example, more senior executives in Australia, Spain and the UK logged onto the Internet in 1998 than in 1997, and they did so more frequently, Andersen said.

Access to the Internet increased slightly from 1997 to 1998, Andersen said, pointing out that 92 per cent of CEOs, CFOs and CIOs (chief executive, financial and information officers) around the world had Web access in 1998, compared to 90 per cent in 1997. Of those with access, 83 per cent went online at least once a week in 1998, compared to 71 per cent in 1997. Half of the surveyed executives said they "feel comfortable" online, which is up from a third in 1997.

Corporate executives in Canada and the US are the most connected to the Web, Andersen said, followed by executives in the UK, Australia, France, and Spain.

Some two-thirds of US senior executives surveyed have gone shopping online, Andersen found, making them the mostly likely national group to do so. This is significantly higher than the global average, Andersen said. Top management in Canada (48 per cent), the UK (39 per cent) and Australia (39 per cent) were the next most likely groups to make personal purchases online.

Andersen noted other geographical differences in executive Web use. Increasing numbers of Japanese senior executives, for example, are going online once a week (81 per cent in 1998, up from 72 per cent in 1997), but they continue to be the least comfortable in using the Web and rarely shop online -- only 13 per cent said they've shopped on the Internet.

Japan and Germany have the lowest level of senior executives with Web access, being the only countries surveyed with access rates lower than 90 per cent (72 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively). German executives came in as the least likely to go online, with only 66 per cent of executives logging on once a week in 1998.

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