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Global ecommerce is alive and kicking, and big businesses around the world are continuing to invest in the technology, according to survey from Accenture, the management consultancy firm with the funny name.

There a good news IT industry story, for once. Or is it? The major reason cited by board-level execs for spending in ecommerce is to seek efficiencies in the "harsh new competitive environment". Forget acquisition of customers, the talk now is of "deepening customer relationships" through the delivery of more tailored surveys.

Ecommerce favours the large and well-established companies and will promote market consolidation, according to the execs interviewed by Accenture for its fourth annual ecommerce survey. They should know - they pay the bills, even if they are inflated by the need for legacy system integration.

Here's some survey highlights, culled from the US respondents:

  • Seventy-five percent of senior executives interviewed intend to increase their eCommerce spending by an average of 15 per cent over the next 12 months.

  • 50 per cent expect to be pursuing major opportunities in wireless commerce within three years.
  • 57 per cent of US executives say their eCommerce initiatives have been successful - 45 per cent are saying they are delivering real financial benefits.
  • 62 percent of companies are using the Internet to buy and sell to other businesses; 73 per cent are using it to support purchasing and 57 per cent are using it in human resource functions.
E-Europe

Accenture's survey has also teased out attitudes to ecommerce from European execs. Europe is said to be 12 months behind the US in adoption of ecommerce technologies.

The landscape is drastically altered from last year, when 74 per cent of execs admitted that the main reason for investing in ecommerce was to keep pace with their competitors". That has dropped to 48 per cent today; now European companies are concentrating on consolidation of existing opportunities.

Ecommerce technologies are moving beyond sales and marketing and into the back offices, European execs says. They also expect to double their use of B2B exchanges (we'll believe this when we see it).

And for the future? Here's some more snapshots.

  • 50 per cent intend using wireless commerce, 32 per cent voice commerce, and 29 per cent television commerce within three years.

  • Significant growth will also come from silent commerce - the use of radio frequency chips to tag, track and monitor objects as they move within an organisation or through its supply chain. Eighty three per cent of executives expect these new technologies to deliver more opportunities than traditional `wired' eCommerce.

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