UK manufacturing lacks ambition and foresight in using the Internet and still largely sees the Web as a means to increase visibility rather than efficiency, said a report from IBM and the Institute of Manufacturing.
The report, Tomorrow's Best Practice, was backed by the Department of Trade and Industry and surveyed 200 UK manufacturing companies with 50 to 500 workers, drawn from five sectors: fabrication and assembly, electrical and electronics, aerospace, automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
It found general enthusiasm for the Internet's potential, with 77% of the companies having a Web site. However, few have integrated the Web with their business processes such as supply chain and procurement.
Alastair Ross, principal consultant for supply chain management at IBM, said manufacturers must realise that buying and selling over the Web is only a small part of Ebusiness and that business executives, not IT managers, must lead the project.
"The successful companies are those which have integrated their Web site with the businesses processes," Ross said. "Companies must be more aggressive with a broad and long-term strategy to fully exploit the Internet by aligning the goals with the business challenges."
The report contrasted the UK findings with those from a survey last year examining how the UK's key manufacturing rivals in Europe use the Internet.
That survey found that the Nordic countries were far ahead in efficient Ebusiness.
Also, 94% of German businesses surveyed were found to recognise Internet approaches to long-term business needs, with 33% implementing Ebusiness across multiple business processes.
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