During 1999 at the time of the dot-com boom, when most vendors were keen to go along with the hype, it was Cisco that really championed the move from 'bricks and mortar' to 'clicks and mortar'. The mantra was customer acquisition, and return on investment (ROI); income or profit were all things of the past.
Five years later the high-tech world has emerged from its teenage years. We seem to be more mature, and are seeing real benefits from e-business applications that offer true ROI, such as Salesforce.com in the CRM space, and central and local government have also embraced e-business.
There is a corollary between the growth of a country and its spending on IT. This has been expounded by chief executives of networking vendors. John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco, draws on data from the Net Ready Government report, and Avaya chief executive Don Peterson has also referred to this corollary.
Avaya has claimed the global economies' growth between 1974 and 1995 was only 1.5 per cent. This then underwent a spurt to 2.5 per cent up until 2000. The Net Ready report takes it further by using the illustration of an economy enjoying a three per cent compounded growth, which doubles its wealth in 24 years.
The study highlights firms that have achieved four to five times improvement in productivity by using web business applications.
The Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) has published its findings in the 2004 e-readiness rankings, which shows the UK has moved up a place to second in the list. The rankings are calculated by applying different weightings to factors such as business environment, business adoption and legal environment.
The highest weighting (25 per cent) is applied to connectivity and technology infrastructure.
The UK does not score well compared with Scandinavian countries, and some of the densest broadband markets in the world today - Korea, Belgium, Taiwan and Japan - are not among the top 10. It is the countries with dense connectivity, including broadband, that have held their ground at the top.
The fact that the UK is Europe's densest broadband market has helped push it into second place.
The EIU defines a country's 'e-readiness' as a measure of its e-business environment - factors that show how amenable a market is to web-based opportunities.
Another report, from McKinsey, shows the chief executives' confidence in the economy and the spending chief information and chief technology officers expect in the next six months.
So how well is the UK doing? Recently published results show the economy has enjoyed steady growth for the past four quarters.
Keith Humphreys is managing consultant at EuroLAN Research.
EuroLAN Research(01202) 670 170
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany