CEOs Report Using More Online Resources

The vast majority of the world’s CEOs are using the Internet, according to a study by Fortune and Burson-Marsteller, which surveyed both traditional and dot-com CEOs.

The research, “On the Minds of CEOs,” found that 91 percent of the 700 CEOs that participated logged on to the Internet, spending an average of six hours per week online. Dot-com CEOs spend twice that time online.

When asked how they use the Internet, 96 percent of the CEOs said they used email; 94 percent visited online news/info sources; and 87 percent said they visited their own company’s Web site. Three-quarters have monitored their competitors’ Web sites. More than half (57 percent) of CEOs at least once a day to check their company’s share price. Few respondents have participated in online chats/board or online auctions. The favorite portals of American CEOs are Yahoo and AOL; outside the US they are Alta Vista and AOL.

The survey included technology-based questions modeled closely on the IQ test, on which 71 percent of the respondents graded average or better, including 25 percent who fell into the “gifted” class. Dot-com CEOs scored in the highest category of this portion of the survey.

Although 93 percent of CEOs surveyed rank their cell phone as their chief communication technology, CEOs displayed a greater knowledge of Internet technology-related terms such as intranet, broadband, ISP, and URL than of the technologies related to mobile communications, such as CDMA, DSP, and GSM.

Chief Communication
Technology of CEOs
Cell phone 93%
Desktop computer 76%
Laptop 69%
PDA 39%
Source: Fortune/Burson-Marsteller

While CEOs report using an increasing number of online resources, the majority of CEOs still rank traditional media such as newspapers and magazines — as well as the advice of tech staff and business associates — as being more critical when making technology decisions. Dot-com CEOs report a higher reliance on online sources and business associates, although 72 percent report using magazines.

The vast majority of CEOs (83 percent) report having an Internet strategy for their company and 13 percent they are developing one now. Only 2 percent do not have an Internet strategy and have no plans to do so. Of the CEOs with an Internet strategy, 61 percent use the Internet to market and position their companies, while 57 percent use it to streamline operations/processes and 57 percent to drive revenue. Non-US CEOs are less likely than US CEOs to leverage the power of the Internet to drive revenue.

Despite all the new technology to keep up with, CEOs feel more challenged by the war for talent. Other work-related issues of biggest concern to CEOs include achieving growth objectives, staying ahead of the competition, and keeping up with technology/pace of change.

The top goals of CEOs worldwide are creating superior financial performance, being the industry leaders, and focusing customers, although dot-com CEOs as a group place more focus on industry superiority than they do on customer focus and increasing shareholder value. When it comes to meeting goals, the survey found that CEOs perceive external communications to the initiative with the greatest impact on share price. Strong internal communications, high ethical standards, and good corporate governance are also viewed as having significant impact on share price. Non-US CEOs and dot-com CEOs place greater weight on their e-commerce strategies than their counterparts.

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