Internet-How to Avoid Cross-cultural Minefields (1,353 words)
The global Internet user base is growing. Here's how to avoid potential cross-cultural minefields
By Frank Cutitta
If you think the rash of dot-com failures and the global economic slowdown foreshadow the doom of the Internet as a global e-commerce medium, think again.
As some dot-com companies close their doors, the Internet continues to grow exponentially. According to current projections from IT research firm IDC, the party surely is not over. The global Internet user base will more than double to more than 900 million Internet users in 2004 as compared to more than 400 million at the end of 2000. This growth means 33 percent of the Web-proficient population will buy via the Web, which in turn will lead to a $500 billion global business-to-consumer market—a six-fold increase over four years!
Even more compelling is that global business-to-business e-commerce marketers will enjoy a 72.6-percent compounded annual growth rate between 2000 and 2004, which will lead to a $4.3 trillion market by 2004.
While sources vary wildly, the number of Web sites is growing somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million sites per month with a global total of more than 28 million sites. Many of these sites are personal home pages, but even so, this only further confirms that the Internet continues to become more mainstream at the grassroots level. This also means grassroots competition!
Despite the disproportionate volume of Internet users in the United States, the per capita usage statistics paint a different picture when looking at global acceptance and usage of the Internet. With approximately 39-percent per capita Internet usage in the United States, we weigh in at number six in the world after Iceland (60%+), Sweden (50%), Finland (47%), Norway (43%) and Denmark (40%).
The implications for U.S.-based global marketers are significant. With previous technology revolutions, such as the personal computer, the United States had the luxury of leading the bandwagon. In the case of e-commerce and Internet usage, we are surely ahead of most nations, but we no longer have a monopoly on global best practices.