Skilled staff key to e-growth

The key to dotcom success is keeping staff up to date with the relevant skills, a Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu survey of Australia's leading Internet technology companies revealed this week.

The survey of 88 CEOs from dotcom and Internet technology companies found that having staff with relevant skills is seen as a key factor in reaching projected growth rates.

About 90 per cent of respondents believed having skilled staff was necessary to reach targets while 54 per cent identified inadequate skills as a significant constraint to potential business growth.

The inaugural dotcom survey, which found the Australian Internet market buoyant and optimistic about the future, was undertaken in May this year only a month after the Nasdaq shakeout.

Despite the shakeout dotcom revenue is still experiencing explosive growth with the flow of investment funds showing no signs of abating, Deloitte Touche Tomatsu's e-business specialist Peter Williams said.

He said the survey results prove the boom and bust valuations applied by the capital markets hide the reality that these businesses are growing fast and becoming profitable.

"The market correction was not a sledgehammer, just a tap on the shoulder; the dumb money has left and sanity has returned to the marketplace," he said.

Williams said a critical issue for dotcoms is maintaining skilled staff throughout the growth of the business to meet each stage of a company's development.

He said there is a definite shortage of e-skilled staff, particularly in middle management where there is greater interaction with investors.

"There are plenty of great ideas and opportunities but transforming creative skills to management is difficult; there are only a certain number of CEOs out there who understand the unique variable of this market," Williams said.

The average expected growth rate of the 88 businesses is 159 per cent in the next year demonstrating hyper growth and globalisation at Internet speed.

A total of 20 per cent of businesses are operating internationally now and this is expected to grow to 58 per cent in the next 12 months.Of the companies surveyed, 30 per cent were publicly listed and 45 per cent have between 11 and 50 full-time staff.

In the survey's list of 12 key growth factors for success, 88 per cent of the CEOs identified an understanding of target markets as important with 84 per cent citing innovative ideas and 79 per cent listing the need to work collaboratively with partners and alliances.

Interestingly, having a strong stock market was seen as the least important growth factor while 49 per cent said being slow to react was a major constraint, demonstrating that being first into the market is still very important to the Internet sector.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents believe the dotcom sector is more globalised than the general business community, although 70 per cent believe the primary focus for the Australian Internet market is the domestic economy.

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