In response to business pressures, automation suppliers such as Siemens and Honeywell are now embracing Internet sales, according to a recent worldwide study by the ARC Advisory Group. Web sales of automation products and systems totaled $247 million in 1999 and are expected to increase to $42 billion by the end of 2004.
"Web sales and the implementation of e-business strategies are causing a revolution in the automation business," said David Clayton, ARC senior analyst. "The rise of commercial Web sites, intranets, extranets, trade exchanges and auctions as critical business tools is dramatically changing the face of the automation business."
ARC's study indicates that more automation suppliers are realizing the necessity of adopting an e-business strategy that incorporates Web sales. Consequently, the Internet is becoming the hottest distribution channel for automation products, while changing the way these suppliers interact with customers, business partners and their own internal communication channels.
"Internet-based ordering systems from major suppliers such as Rockwell, Fisher-Rosemount, Siemens and Honeywell offer users an easily accessible alternative to traditional sales channels for purchasing many low-end automation products and obtaining technical documentation and customer-support information," said Larry O'Brien, ARC's director of research/automation systems and solutions.
Suppliers who do not immediately begin developing an effective e-business strategy for sales, marketing and customer service will find it difficult to remain competitive, Clayton said.