Study: businesses not tapping full Net potential

"Our study suggests that there still is a long way to go for companies to fully exploit this technology," said Andrew Winston, one of the four authors of the study released Thursday from the University of Texas at Austin's Centre for Research in Electronic Commerce.

The 74-question survey commissioned by Dell suggests businesses still can make gains on the Internet in areas like developing online supplier relationships and redesigning business processes. A strong correlation exists between financial performance and business technology drivers, such as system integration, customer orientation and supplier-related processes and trading partner readiness.

A majority of businesses have developed Web sites with product information (74 per cent), but the companies have not integrated functions like customisation (55 per cent), order status (44 per cent) and capabilities for customer feedback and quality issues (29 per cent).

The study of retailers, manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers concludes that companies with less than $US1 million in revenue have an increase in return of capital invested of 50.2 per cent, compared to 20.9 per cent for firms with $US10 million in revenue.

"Small firms can have immediate impact by going online," said Prabhudev Konana, a study author.

Winston suggested it will take not only internal company change, but also alternations in the attitudes of the companies that a business deals with to both accelerate and exploit the benefits of the Internet.

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