UK firms get the e-business bug

Half the businesses in the UK are now using online ordering and payment technology, says a new government report

The UK is making good progress in the e-business arena, according to a new report published on Tuesday by the government.

The Department of Trade and Industry's 'UK online for business' report shows that half of UK organisations are now ordering online -- 52 percent up on last year's figure.

It also claims that businesses are adopting a more strategic approach to, and sophisticated use of, technology.

For example, the survey found a large increase in the number of businesses ordering online compared with last year, and a greater use of technology to track and check the availability of goods. Nearly one fifth of firms now make payments online, an increase of nearly 20 percent on 2001. The study also showed that some firms are feeling the benefits of ebusiness. Eighty-seven percent of firms who adopted e-business technology to reduce costs and improve efficiency found that it had made a positive impact in this area.

Confidence in security has increased, as fewer firms (1 percent) are concerned about confidentiality and fraud than before.

However, the study showed that the take-up of e-business technology has remained steady, with 91 percent of businesses having access to the internet, and 80 percent having a Web site.

The e-commerce minister, Stephen Timms, said in a statement: "UK businesses are beginning to make the best of, and get the benefits from, new technology but we must not stop here."

"Companies understand that e-business is no longer just about having a Web site or email and that they must now focus on using technology to transform all their business processes."

He added: "The report showed encouraging signs of more sophisticated use of, and strategic approaches to, e-business, and that we are well on track to developing an advanced e-economy."

The International Benchmarking Study 2002 is based on the results of 3,000 interviews in the UK. It was commissioned and published by UK online for business, a partnership between government and industry that promotes the use of e-commerce among small and medium-sized businesses.

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