E-businesses must fight to protect customer data integrity online, according to EDS chief executive Dick Brown.

Speaking at Comdex 2000 in Las Vegas, Brown said that successful e-business was "about enabling relationships, not just transactions." He said that many dotcom failures were a result of businesses neglecting this relationship building.

His point of view is supported by the results of a survey that EDS, the leading global services firm, conducted in September. It found that an overwhelming 81 per cent of cyber consumers say trust - belief a company will protect personal information and secure transactions against cyber crime - is the most important aspect of conducting business on the Internet.

Respondents placed "trust" ahead of ease-of-use, speed of data
transmission, speed of goods delivery, reliability or cost reductions as elements for successful cyber business.

"I believe the industry has been consumed with chasing the e-space to build the next big website, that we have lost sight of the basic business fundamentals," he said.

Brown explained that establishing consumer trust was one of four key principles to successful e-business. He also cited eliminating boundaries between customers and suppliers, increasing collaboration with partners and suppliers, and continually seeking improvements.

"You must know your customers and they must trust that their information is secure with you. We've got to earn our customers' trust so they'll permit us to continue serving them," said Brown.

He stressed that companies must form partnerships to survive. "Community companies win over those standing alone. A start-up cannot survive today unless it partners from the get up," he said, adding that this rule applied to both start-ups and established businesses.

E-businesses should continuously seek improvements, Brown added. "Great organisations look beyond the horizon. Static business models are doomed - you've got to embrace speed and make it a core value. A company that's not fast is not good," he said.

About EDS
EDS, the leading pure-play global services company, provides strategy, implementation and hosting for clients managing the complexities of the digital economy.