Companies aspiring to be e-businesses must expect years of upheaval before they can take full advantage of the technology, according to an expert.
Leslie Willcocks, Warwick Business School's Andersen professor of information management and e-business, said most companies would take up to three years to sort out the legacy of past culture.
"The vast majority of companies I see are still struggling through the re-engineering stage, after finding their infrastructure is inadequate. There is often a big organisational capability gap and a major rethink is needed on business processes," said Professor Willcocks, who moves to Warwick after nine years at Templeton College, Oxford.
"The whole area of e-business has been massively over-hyped and 'e' can stand for e-nough. I think many companies were anxious to demonstrate to the City they had an e-business strategy, but it is another matter to have one that actually delivers."
Professor Willcocks named Dell and Cisco as two of the few e-businesses that had successfully made it through the re-engineering stage. Others were retrenching after throwing money at e-business, and a shake-out of the more fragile companies would be accelerated by the economic slowdown, he said.
"I see e-business as an attempt to seamlessly integrate the whole with customers, suppliers and business allies," he said.
Professor Willcocks added that IT needed far more insight and academic rigour than was usually applied.
A consultant to companies including IBM and Ericsson, Professor Willcocks won the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2001 World Outsourcing Achievement Award for his contribution to the field.