Small businesses still have a long way to go to before they can fully reap the benefits of IT, according to a DTI-sponsored report.
Even for basic functionalities such as email, only 32 per cent of the UK?s small medium enterprises (SMEs) use electronic messaging facilties compared to 71 per cent of large organisations.
Also, even though 59 per cent of SMEs have modems, only 23 per cent are connected to the Internet. However Internet penetration in larger companies is only slighter bigger with 47 per cent hooked up to the Net.
The report, Moving into the Information Society, is an international study into the levels of information and communications usage in Japan, UK, Germany, France and the US.
Unsurprisingly, the US and Japan came out on top in most areas, with the UK and Germany following closely behind with France bringing up the rear.
The UK was not alone in having a huge gap between large and small companies in their use of new technologies, as this was a problem in the other countries.
Said Barbara Roche, Minister for Small Rirms: ?This unique report shows us where the UK stands: it highlights the strengths and weaknesses in the UK position and what needs to be done to address those weaknesses.?
The study also revealed that price and skills were two significant barriers to IT implementation. Around 16 per cent of UK firms without computers believed the cost of hardware and software was still too prohibitive.
For those that had IT, 35 per cent of UK companies had not trained their staff on IT, compared to 52 per cent in France and 51 per cent in Germany.
The ever-present shortage of IT skills has spurred on the DTI to urge UK businesses to suggest ideas on how to recruit more people into the IT sector. Suggestions should be forwarded by September.
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