UK small and medium enterprises are missing out on ebusiness opportunities because they are failing to invest in IT systems.
The results of an independent study by research firm Spike Cavell on behalfof Nortel Networks revealed that only a minority of UK SMEs had invested inebusiness systems, despite admitting that their customers wereincreasingly demanding that they should be able to do business online.
Only 29 per cent of SMEs in the UK are doing any form of ecommerce, while56 per cent of those who aren't said they had no plans to do so in thecoming 12 months. About 21 per cent of companies have an extranet, with 68 per cent of those who do not stating that this situation is not likely to change by this time next year.
Ecommerce related technologies did not rate highly among those which areseen as critical to the ongoing wellbeing of the companies. Only email andinternet access rate highly, but these are well behind what is seen asmost important: a finance system, which was rated as crucial by 81 per cent of respondents. In contrast, having the ability to conduct ecommerce was rated as vital by 25 per cent.
SME companies make up 99 per cent of all UK and Irish businesses, employing more than 80 per cent of the workforce and accounting for more than 40 per cent of total spend on IT.
Regionally, Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK and Ireland inecommerce, with only 25 per cent of SMEs engaging in some form of related activity, compared with 33 per cent in the rest of the Great Britain.
Ireland fares well, with intranets, extranets and virtual collaborative working more widespread than in England and Scotland.
Some 52 per cent of Irish respondents had implemented an intranet, compared with 35 per cent in the rest of Great Britain. Twenty two per cent had an extranet, compared with 13 per cent, and 18 per cent had some form of virtual collaborative working, compared with six per cent.
In addition, 26 per cent of Irish SMEs believe that effective use of technology is critical to business success, compared with 13 per cent in England and Scotland.
But East Anglia comes out the best, with 86 per cent of SMEs in the region having a presence on the Web, compared with 75 per cent in the rest of the UK. About 63 per cent of respondents have implemented an intranet, compared with 35 per cent outside the region.
Jeremy Mooney, marketing director at Nortel Networks UK and Ireland Enterprise Solutions, said: "To ensure a higher level of corporate fitness in the future, Scottish companies must wake up now, purchase and adapt or die. Irish SMEs are positively embracing new business challenges and adapting to commercial change, by adopting new technology to support business growth.
"But on a cautionary note, these same companies must also now look at investing in other important technology areas such as CRM to ensure corporate fitness in the future."
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