UK e-Commerce Integrators: Are You Ready for m-Commerce?

On the heels of the American e-commerce integrator market's erosion, as Xpedior shut down and MarchFIRst and Viant let go staff, Forrester Research took a look at UK e-commerce integrators. They graded the top 10 of 177 e-commerce integrators (eCI). The research they compiled showed that eCIs needed to keep up with the growing use of multidevices -- such as PDAs, mobile Internet phones, iDTVs and kiosks -- to access the Internet and conduct business.

The study looked at an initial field of 177 UK eCIs, including startup Internet consultants, mobile and iDTV specialists, advertising and brand management agencies, IT solutions vendors and management consultancies. It chose the top 10 based on their location and staffing in the UK, average revenues, staff skills distribution and having a reference site to show multidevice Internet solutions experience.

Forrester graded the top 10 eCIs selected across five categories: strategy, marketing, design, technology and business practices. The study included 2- to 3-hour interviews with representatives from each provider, reviews of multidevice reference work, interviews with lead executives of clients of each provider and examination of each provider's response to the study's findings. Forrester found that no service provider in the UK delivered stellar strategy, marketing, design and technology offerings. The average across the scorecards was 27.7 out of 100 possible points. Except for Rubus, none of the pure-plays scored more than 5 points out of 10 for their technical skills.

Shortcomings ranged from not integrating e-commerce solutions with systems such as Siebel, to being unable to integrate legacy business systems using XML. Five of the six traditional integrators, such as Accenture and KPMG Consulting, were unable to supply live multidevice client references that met Forrester's criteria. They showed an inability to help e-commerce companies meet the need for such services that the projected 15 million (by 2003) UK multiple device-owning consumers will demand. The top 10 eCIs demonstrated a lack of CRM and marketing skills, averaging an anemic 4.8 out of 10 marketing score. The figures represented failures to

• combine online and offline data,

• extend analysis beyond traditional demographic profiling and

• understand how users interact across multiple devices.

Forrester recommends that UK eCIs help clients connect e-commerce applications with back-office systems and develop services networks by partnering to deliver more than technical and strategic expertise. It recommends as well that pure-plays get early-mover advantages by leveraging their lead in delivering multidevice applications.

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