CEOs catch the Internet fever

IS managers should sit up and take notice of the results of an Australian survey which finds a large number of CEOs rubbing their hands together over emerging Internet opportunities.

IS managers should sit up and take notice of the results of an Australian survey which finds a large number of CEOs rubbing their hands together over emerging Internet opportunities. The survey, which polled 265 members of a national CEO network called The Executive Connection (TEC), reveals that more than half (55%) of respondents expect the Internet to affect their bottom line over the next two years. Another 13% predict even tighter time-frames -- and expect to see concrete Internet business opportunities emerge within six months.

Chris Levy, managing director of TEC, believes the research proves that the Internet has climbed the corporate ladder and is now a real issue for Australian CEOs -- a strong hint that it's no time for IS managers to be caught napping. According to Levy, TEC ran the survey to determine whether it was worth providing information to network members on Internet issues. "We had a number of questions about it, so we ran the survey only to discover it is much more important than we thought," he says.

The survey predicts Internet usage amongst this group is set to substantially increase, with 75% of respondents claiming they are likely to use the Internet over the next 12 months. And reflecting even more of the CEO mindset, the survey found that while one-fifth of respondents' organisations have a home page, 64% see the research capabilities as the Internet's greatest asset, and 38% rate interbusiness communication as the most important contribution. Trailing this, 18% use it for reading magazines, another 18% use it to communicate while travelling, 17% see it as a means of promoting the company and 16% use it to make social contact.

However, despite their enthusiasm, Levy does not believe that CEOs really know where the Internet is leading, any more than anyone else. "I don't believe that the CEOs really know what impact the Internet will have on their businesses as the technology is still at the early adoption stage. They are recognising it is a big thing, but nobody quite knows what to do about it. For instance, how is it going to provide revenue? How do you charge Internet customers, and would people be prepared to buy from the Internet? These are the burning questions," he says.

According to the survey, of those CEOs who have used the Internet, around 61% have been using it for less than six months, 18% for more than 12 months or more and 16% for between six and 12 months. One-fifth of respondents access the Internet several times a week, 20% access it once a week, 17% every day and 16% less than once a month.

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