E-Commerce Focus: Europe learning from US failures

The UK and Europe may well be behind the U.S. in volume of e-commerce implementations but that could be a good thing according to new research.

The UK and Europe may well be behind the U.S. in volume of e-commerce implementations but that could be a good thing according to new research. Although a lot of researchers have criticised local players for failing to install Internet-based sales systems, playing a waiting game may well mean better aligned projects, according to Cambridge Information Network.

Specifically, CIN - a division of system integrator and consultant Cambridge Technology Partners - said European enterprises have benefited from taking a more rounded approach to commerce after noting the failures of first-time-around projects. The survey was based on the responses of more than 1800 senior IT personnel.

About 10 percent more of European IT managers felt they had been more successful in implementing e-commerce projects than in the U.S. - due to the more integrated approach Europeans are taking, said CIN. Almost three-quarters of worldwide IT directors say their e-commerce projects were driven by IT, followed by just half saying marketing played a key role and still less pointing to sales (38 percent), service and support (28 percent) and operations (22 percent) as major drivers. That disconnect was at the heart of the most cited reason for failed projects: a "failure to connect the e-commerce effort with business goals".

In the UK and Europe, IT, marketing and operations working closer together to drive e-commerce initiatives, CIN found. "Europeans have been able to benefit from the mistakes that the U.S. has made," according to Christine Marsh, European marketing director of CIN. "We've had more time to understand the need for business process realignment. It may not have been a conscious decision but IT departments here are less autonomous and they have also learnt from U.S. mistakes. In the UK and Europe, they take more outside help from systems integrators and consultants. The U.S. is the world leader in technology but technology has led it in e-commerce. Europeans have learned that everybody has to be brought into the party."

Specifically, Marsh said many US e-commerce initiatives had also suffered from resulting sales channel conflict and lack of business targets. "Too many companies are happy just to measure hits and volume of transactions," Marsh said.

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