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Execs want the Web but don't know why

Most executives would really like their companies to be on the Web, but few know why and even fewer have actually created a Web site. So concluded a study released this week by KPMG Peat Marwick and Upside magazine.

Most executives would really like their companies to be on the Web, but few know why and even fewer have actually created a Web site. So concluded a study released this week by KPMG Peat Marwick and Upside magazine.

Seventy percent of the 660 technology CEOs surveyed said they believe it is "very important" or "somewhat important" to have a site on the Web, but only one-third actually do have a site. This is the second annual study conducted by Peat Marwick about businesses setting up shop on the Web

"Corporate America is caught up in the rush to be cybercitizens," said Roger Siboni, national managing partner of KPMG.

The study found, however, that most of the CEOs couldn't explain why having a Web site is important.

"We found that many companies are not very savvy yet about what they need the Net for," said Karen Southwick, executive editor of Upside. If they offered an explanation, survey respondents cited "product information" (26 percent of respondents) and "image" (22 percent) as the most common uses.

"The conclusion that we drew is that companies think it's important to get on the Web, but they are still feeling their way as to what they can do and why. Based on the survey, the Net is somewhat overhyped in its short-term potential," said Southwick.

Siboni himself thinks that most businesses jumping on the Internet bandwagon are doing it to make money, but he doesn't expect that they will do so anytime soon. "The reality of commerce beneath those home pages and Web sites are several years off," added Siboni, citing security issues as a big reason for his conclusion.

Other analysts disagree that the Net is hyped in either the short or long term.

"I don't think it's a bunch of hype. There are a lot of useful hardware and software sites out there with thousands of pages on the latest technology traits," said Peter Krasilovsky, an analyst with consulting firm Arlen Communications.

Others think that negative studies about problems associated with the Web obscure its real value.

"Companies who aren't ready to explore the Net are going to be left far behind. I understand that it's messy and confusing right now, but that doesn't mean that it won't evolve into something that's clearer," said Jerry Michalski, editor of Release 1.0.