Aust business Internet usage stalls

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that commercial adoption of various computer technologies has stalled. The ABS' revelation was contained in its latest assessment of Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT), released yesterday.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that commercial adoption of various computer technologies has stalled. The ABS' revelation was contained in its latest assessment of Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT), released yesterday.

Of the surveyed businesses, 23 percent were recorded at June 2003 as having a "Web presence", which is determined by the existence of a Web site, home page or presence on another entity's Web site.

The figure has declined since the June 2002 statistic by one percentage point, reversing its gradually slowing take-up from the 2 percentage point growth recorded from 2001 to 2002, 6 percentage point growth from 2000 to 2001 and 10 percentage point growth from 1998 to 2000.

The report recorded that computer usage amongst businesses has not risen at all since the 2001 analysis, which documented computer usage amongst 84 percent of the sample population.

Businesses using the Internet slipped from 72 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2003.

However the ABS notes that small changes in statistics from end June 2002 to end June 2003 are more likely to be the result of changes to the survey population rather than the changes to the actual trait being measured.

The ABS explains that the report is the first since the advent of the new tax system (TNTS), thus having a significant effect on the 2002-2003 comparison of statistics, as the survey was conducted in a new statistical infrastructure.

The report states: "For 2002-2003, approximately two thirds of the sample were new businesses to the survey; this rate is normally one third. The size of this rotation has impacted on the accuracy of survey estimates for 2002-2003."

In the realms of IT security, 11 percent of computer-using businesses said they had "no IT security measures in place at June 2003", and among those using precautions, the most popular forms of IT security were virus scanners and anti-virus software, accounting for 82 percent of the group's preference.

According to the report 38 percent of businesses using a computer, "reported some form of IT security incident or breach, which was not intercepted by the business's security measures during the year ended June 2003".

Of this figure viruses was the most common problem, occupying 34 percent of the statistic; followed by worms at 17 percent.

Business modes of accessing the Internet shifted, with dial-up modem popularity sliding from 86 percent in 2002 to 76 percent in 2003.

Conversely, the proportion of businesses accessing the Internet via a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) increased by 11 percentage points from end-June 2002 to end-June 2003, taking the most recent figure of business DSL connectivity up to 18 percent.

Business operations conducted online, such as the ordering of goods and services, has increased dramatically according the BUIT report, rising to 13 percent usage amongst businesses; more than double the 2002 figure.

Complementary to this figure, the report indicated that Internet income had also doubled between the 2002 to 2003 comparison, escalating from AU$11.3 million in 2002 to AU$24.3 million in 2003.

According to the ABS, respondents indicated that the most common reason behind businesses using the Internet to order goods was the time saving advantage that the service has.