Grabbing attention is the key to e-success: IDC

The growth of e-business has less in common with economies of information than it does economies of attention, according to Joe Greene, director of telecommunications and Internet research at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

Greene told an audience at last month’s Comdex/Canada ’99 in Toronto that IDC doesn’t see e-commerce as an information economy, as it is commonly touted.

“It’s an attention economy,” Greene said. “How do you get people to your Web site and then how do you keep them there?”

He said, by 2003, 20 million Canadians will have Internet access somewhere in their lives and e-commerce revenue will be about $80 billion, “the vast majority of which will be business-to-business.” Only about $12.4 billion will be consumer-to-business, he said.

IDC’s first-quarter 1999 consumer studies show an overall increase in consumer-to-business e-commerce. Almost 20 per cent of people with access to the Internet are going to Web sites intending to purchase.

“They don’t always buy,” Greene said, “but that’s what they’re looking for.”

Of those who did make Internet purchases in the two months prior to being surveyed, most made one or two purchases, usually spending between $20 and $50, and the most often-purchased item by a wide margin was software. The second most common purchase was books.

Greene stated again the commonly bemoaned fact that Canadian retailers are significantly behind the Americans in e-commerce and most Canadian dollars are flowing south.

“Most Canadians want to buy Canadian, but they can’t find the sites,” Greene said.

Greene said a key Internet business growth market will be Web site hosting, as most companies can’t afford to host their own sites.

“There’s a significant amount of money to be made among services firms to link Web sites to back-end systems,” Greene said.

To be perceived as an Internet player, he said, a company must possess these key attributes: Internet- and e-commerce-targeted offerings; strong Internet and e-commerce marketing and branding; and a high share of business channelled through the Internet.