Big Five Firms Have Mixed Messages for Dotcoms

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Dotcom leaders work long hours but are only interested in short-term gain, according to reports issued by KPMG Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The KPMG Consulting study found that, whilst the leaders of the new economy may dress down for the office, they are still dedicated to their task. Over half worked more than 56 hours per week, and one in seven expect to be working until they are past 70.

Paradoxically, a PwC survey of the sector said that such people were "opportunists who ignore traditional business principles in the hope of short-term profit." One in two traditional companies accused European dotcom entrepreneurs of holding short-term goals.

The PwC study of over 400 leading European companies also found that dotcoms put customers last, preferring to focus on strategic partnerships and dynamic leadership rather than customer fulfilment.

But this energy and drive is a positive feature of the new economy, according to KMPG Consulting. Today's e-leaders have a firm grasp of how the Internet is changing business. "Traditional leaders have a lot to learn from this new generation and ignore them at their peril," said KPMG Consulting chief executive Alan Buckle.

Yet the companies asked by PwC said that traditional models of business would survive the open-mindedness, agility and greater technical skills of Internet firms because of their market place strength, business expertise and financial power.

Dotcoms only have two to three years to raise profits if they are to survive, the PwC survey states. Bill Bound, European e-business consulting partner at PwC, said: "The survey highlights that the failure of the dot.coms to put the customer as number one is clearly a massive issue.

"Traditional companies' emphasis on fulfilment is the result of years of experience, whereas the dotcoms believe that strong marketing will persuade customers to log onto a website and order goods that never actually get delivered.

"The lack of focus on traditional business skills is also holding dotcoms back - their biggest challenge is to achieve financial credibility in the marketplace. The survey raises the question whether three years before being judged by traditional P/E measures is too long. Eight percent of companies surveyed said that dotcoms have up to six months before they are valued in the same way."

But the old-school business leader is far from a technophobe, KPMG Consulting believes. They too regularly use the Internet both at work and at home.

Further findings note that dotcom leaders have an average age of 38, are less likely to have a degree, and try to keep costs to a minimum by travelling cheaply.

They take fewer holidays than their traditional counterparts, and would rather be a racing driver than the preferred daydream activity of their established colleagues - to be a doctor or an author.

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