The Internet is here to stay as part of the business environment, according to corporate middle America, but to date has had little or no impact on most companies.
That?s the main conclusion of a nationwide survey of 253 US manufacturing companies with revenues of between $10 million and $500 million, carried out by Chicago-based management consultancy Grant Thornton LLP.
The survey revealed that although an overwhelming 95 per cent of respondents regarded the Internet as a permanent fixture on the corporate landscape, only 13 per cent said that it had made any impact on their businesses over the past two years, while 53 per cent said it had made absolutely no difference.
Despite these responses, more midsize companies are making their presence felt on the World Wide Web, with 25 per cent of respondents in this category saying they had set up sites. A similar survey last year found that only 14 per cent of companies had sites.
Those sites that have been set up are being used mostly for advertising and marketing, a claim made by 65 per cent of respondents, or simply because companies feel it makes them stand out as market leaders if they have an Internet presence.
Significantly, only a minority of those questioned see a Web site as a way of improving the bottom line. Only 41 per cent use their sites to provide customers with a sales channel to purchase products electronically, while a mere 20 per cent see the Internet as way of increasing profits.
From the survey answers, it is uncertain whether this situation will change much over the next two years. Respondents were evenly split over the future business role of the Internet, with 50 per cent thinking it will have some impact and the other half believing it will have little or none.
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