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'E-business is not dead,' says a new report by EDS, which shows that most large companies in Europe treat e-business as a fundamental long-term strategy.

EDS, the consulting and global services company, released its new report, "E-State Of The Nations 5", earlier this month, claiming that e-business implementation is alive and well in the boardroom.

In fact, the report, which is released every six months, shows that most of Europe's biggest corporations are treating e-business as a fundamental, long-term and company-wide strategic business direction.

This represents a slight shift in focus for some European firms, who until now, according to EDS, have been using a tactical (department-by-department) approach to e-business transformation. Moreover, EDS said, "their next step is vision-driven enterprise transformation, which is driven by the CEO and board vision and demands a new set of holistic metrics."

The report questioned 339 directors and senior executives of companies ranging in size from USD100 million to USD1 billion. Additionally, 82 respondents in government departments in 12 major European economies were surveyed. Four percent of the respondents to the survey were from Irish corporations or from Irish government.

Giving specific figures, EDS wrote that 53.7 percent of Europe's USD1 billion businesses and 60.9 percent of regional USD100 million businesses operate an overall and integrated e-business strategy, compared to virtually none a few years ago. When asked whether their company had an integrated e-business strategy, around 25 percent of the Irish firms said they did.

To deliver this common strategic focus, EDS asked the executives whether new working methods were required in their companies to bring these ambitious plans to fruition. Forty percent of the Irish firms surveyed said "yes," new working methods are required, while 15 percent strongly agreed with the notion. Still, nearly 10 percent of Irish companies said they did not agree that new working methods were necessary.

On average, just over 30 percent of the companies in the 12 economies surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with that statement and almost 10 percent disagreed. In fact, in all of the major economies, more companies agreed than disagreed with the statement, except for Italy, where only 20 percent of business leaders thought new working methods were necessary. Forty percent in Italy disagreed with that statement.

"Some people think e-business disappeared with the bursting of the Internet stock market bubble," said Steven Leonard, president of EDS Solutions Consulting EMEA. "There was obviously too much hype around the term 'e-business.' But e-business isn't dead. It is alive and well in the boardrooms of major corporations. It's no longer about putting up a Web site. It's not about tools and technology. The focus has changed to a more holistic approach," he added.

Other important trends in the survey showed that serving clients through multiple channels is a well-accepted philosophy of customer and brand management, and this movement is thriving. Additionally, EDS said that there will be major growth in digital enablement - the enabling and integrating of business process systems - with over three-quarters of respondents planning further investment in this area.

Finally, many of the executives said that investment would continue to grow in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Supply Chain Management (SCM) in the next two years. And over half of respondents predict major growth in outsourcing in the next two years. ®

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