UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are catching up with large corporates in their adoption of the Web.
According to recent research by The Durlacher Group, 54 per cent of medium sized firms, and 33 per cent of small companies, have access to the Internet.
The professional and business services sector are still the most eager adopters of the Web (60 per cent) with hotels, catering and leisure at 24 per cent, and wholesale at 27 per cent.
The use of Intranets and Extranets were lower with only nine per cent of SMEs using the Net for internal communications, and a mere one per cent extending this to their suppliers and clients. However, 43 per cent said they plan to install an Extranet within two years.
The report found most respondents believed email and Web play a far more important role than nine months ago, with 66 per cent saying email was either important or very important to business use. This compared with 47 per cent last year.
Around 95,000 UK SMEs have a presence on the Web, with most sectors represented. The hotel, catering and leisure sector lead the market at 67 per cent, while the construction market falls significantly behind at 38 per cent.
Despite being slow to embrace the Web initially, the research found that 52 per cent of the companies had Web site up and running within three months of gaining Internet access for the first time.
Most first efforts are, however unfocused and often just virtual store fronts, with only 16 per cent of SME Web sites currently offering some form of transaction-based service. Considerable growth in this area is expected, as 35 per cent of SMEs overall, intend to have a transaction-based service up and running in 12 months? time.
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