CEOs Recognize Internet's Impact, Study Says

The Internet will reshape the global marketplace by 2001, according to 92% of the respondents in a study of almost 600 CEOs in 24 countries. Released yesterday by Booz-Allen & Hamilton and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the joint research effort--"Competing in the Digital Age: Will the Internet Change Corporate Strategy?"--focused on the CEOs' views of the Internet's impact on business strategy and the global marketplace, and its effect on business culture, organization, and processes.

"Quite frankly, CEOs get it," said Charlie Callahan, a VP at Booz-Allen. "They're focusing on what the Internet means for them and their companies. They understand that the Internet is reshaping the global marketplace."

More than 85% of the senior executives felt strongly that the Internet is forcing change in their companies from the inside out by cultivating an extended enterprise and a more open, forward-looking corporate culture, and by transforming the social structure from the traditional hierarchical chain of command to a more collaborative environment. More than 60% also believed the changes inspired by the Internet will help their companies achieve their strategic goals by improving customer satisfaction, reducing cost structures, globalizing operations, fostering innovation, and speeding time to market. Less than half felt the Internet was forcing them to restructure their company's strategy or lose to the competition.

But acknowledging and acting on the strength of the Internet are two different things. Only 37% of the CEOs were from companies that have already implemented an E-business plan, and while more than 60% intend to set up an extranet to do business with partners and customers, only 29% have actually done so. The reason for the hesitancy? It could be financial: Almost 70% of those who are using the Internet say they don't expect to see a return on their investments until 2001.

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