Business cools its e-commerce pace

While analysts are touting the growth of global e-commerce, expected to top $1.9 trillion this year, a new survey has found Australian companies are abandoning the Internet for business transactions amid security fears.

The Dun & Bradstreet survey shows a slump in e-business activity over the past 12 months although consumer adoption is picking up pace according to the latest figures from research firm IDC.

By the end of 2002, more than 600 million people will have access to the Internet with online spending increasing 68 per cent. It hit $1 trillion ($US600 billion) last year.

However, the drop in business interest reflected in the survey shows 35 per cent of executives believe the Internet had no positive impact on their business.

Australia and New Zealand chief executive at D&B, Christine Christian said, "Businesses have either committed to making the Internet work, or have simply pulled the plug on it."

The national business survey found 49 per cent of companies did not use the Internet at all to conduct business transactions.

This figure was up 20 per cent on a similar survey done in January 2001.

The survey also showed 35 per cent of executives believed the Internet had had no positive impact on their business, an increase of 13 per cent.

Christian said the survey revealed growing concerns among Australian business leaders over the security and reliability of e-commerce.

"The number of executives who perceive electronic B2B transactions as being 'not at all' secure and reliable has risen from 14 to 26 per cent," she said.

"Conversely, the number who see it as being 'very secure and reliable' has also risen, from 22 to 29 per cent."

The increased percentages at either end of the scale were drawn from the middle ground.

Christian added that the drop in Internet support could also be some belt tightening due to the economic downturn.

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