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Half the technology companies in Europe are not yet selling via the Web, a survey by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has revealed.

This situation, described as "alarming" by PWC, is largely due to established businesses lagging behind in the e-commerce race. In comparison to these dinosaurs, younger companies (defined as less than four-years-old by PWC) are generating twice as much of their turnover from e-business.

The Finns are leading the pack in this respect, closely followed by Ireland – with respondents in these two countries expecting up to 68 per cent of next year's sales to be online.

But this growth will worsen staff shortages, already nearing crisis point in the IT industry. The survey, which analysed results from 1289 businesses including resellers, distributors, software development and manufacturing, estimated that e-business staffing would rise from 15 per cent in 1999 to 28 per cent in 2002. Newer companies forecasted the highest percentage of Internet-related staff.

According to the survey: "The single most important issue facing the technology industry continues to be finding and retaining quality staff.

"Seventy per cent of respondents noted that they had substantial difficulties recruiting skilled staff. One of the key challenges is the recruitment of staff with e-business skills."

"The survey highlights that e-business is enabling younger, more nimble companies to exploit the global marketplace, once the exclusive hunting ground of the multinationals," commented Ronald van Tongeren, a PWC partner in charge of the study.

Other pearls from the survey were:

  • Staff turnover stayed at around 17 per cent

  • Average training days per Brit employee were six days per year, compared to five days for the rest of Europe

  • A mere 35 per cent of respondents in the UK claimed profitability was their main business goal

  • The time taken to develop new products in the UK was 1.6 years, longer than the 1.4 European average
  • ®

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