It's official. The Internet is here to stay, having gained 1.89 million local users between 1999 and 2000, boosting Australia's national user community to a total of 7.4 million people.e-commerce spending grew to $US2.9 billion in 2000, with more growth expected yet to come with expectations pitched at over $US37 billion by 2004.
These predictions are part of a recent e-commerce report published by IDC highlighting the top 10 lessons learned by Australia's Internet industry over the past 12 months. And, there are some harsh lessons to be learned.
Primary among them was that the Internet not a business unto itself but simply an alternative channel, and one that failed to capture the attention of SMEs.
"Bricks-and-mortar businesses with an Internet arm have learned that integration between their traditional and online business is key to success" said Brooke Galloway, senior analyst for IDC.
"More and more customers expect to be serviced through whichever channel is most convenient and comfortable for them at any given time. Enterprises should not think of themselves as running two separate businesses but one business which delivers through different channels".
To reap the full benefits of an Internet strategy, business processes and organisational structures must change. Without the support of senior management and business units, an e-business strategy will fail to deliver a competitive advantage to the organisation, IDC says.
"The deployment of an e-business solution has far-reaching implications for an organisation as a whole," adds fellow IDC senior analyst Lisa Shishido. "Because of this, e-business strategies are increasingly moving from being an IT-led project to a business-driven strategy."
"In recent years, the Internet been held responsible for moving IT into the boardroom. However, many organisations have begun to realise that when their e-business strategy is managed through the IT department in isolation, it will fail. Thus, the Internet executive role is increasingly being filled by non-IT candidates."
IDC also noted that EDI has been resurrected, indicating it hasn't been buried as thoroughly by XML as was generally thought.