Small businesses in the UK are finally accepting the importance of the Internet and are incorporating Internet access, email and Web pages into their long term strategies.
Over 80 per cent of 300 companies surveyed said they would get online within at the next five years, which will roughly double the number that currently have access to the Internet. The larger the company, the more likely it is to have access already or to have firm plans to do so.
This finding came in the third of the BT-sponsored Quarterly Internet Reports, conducted by Durlacher Research, which focus on the small and medium enterprise (SME) market.
Of the 300 UK SMEs surveyed, those that had already got email were far more likely to regard it as crucial to their business once they had been using it for 12 months or more.
At the same time that SMEs are beginning to invest in the Internet, a large number are also benefiting as suppliers from the boom.
"One of the most striking results of this report is the section on the UK ancillary services market. A couple of years ago there was only a handful of Web design agencies - now the industry is worth #100 million and is set to grow at a rate of 40 per cent a year," said Nick Gibson, Internet analyst at Durlacher Research.
Adoption was significantly divided by sector. Nearly two-thirds of professional and business services companies were connected while less than 10 per cent of those in the construction sector had Internet access.
Overall, Web sites also figured strongly in a majority of companies plans - two-thirds without one already planned to have one within 18 months. The average spend was up to #3,000.
However, Intranet adoption is still one step too far up the technology ladder for most SMEs, with less than 10 per cent overall having an Intranet - compared to a majority among large organisations. This is despite a majority of SMEs having a local area network.
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