E-commerce performs poorly in small Irish firms

13 Jan 2003

E-commerce accounts for less than 10pc of revenues amongst the majority of Irish firms, a survey commissioned by 3Com has revealed.

The survey, Current & Projected Usage of Technology in Irish Commercial Organisations, was conducted by independent research company Direct Line Marketing. The survey targeted 1,000 medium and 1,500 small organisations.

According to the survey’s results, some 77pc of Irish firms said that e-commerce accounts for less than 10pc of their overall revenue streams. As well as this, 78pc of small Irish firms have no plans to trade online over the next 12 months. Only 29pc of firms found the web ‘very useful’ as a business tool with some 30pc saying they found the web ‘moderately useful’ as a business tool.

The survey found that 91pc of Irish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are operating local area networks (LANs). IT spend during 2002, it found, remained modest with only 32pc increasing their investment in 2002 and half of the respondents invested the same amount on IT in 2002 as in 2001.

3Com’s Irish sales manager Ray O’Connor says that small Irish firms demonstrated a healthy interest in broadband and wireless technologies and the convergence of voice and data, with some 70pc acknowledging the potential benefits of broadband technologies. “Although broadband is being offered to certain regions in Ireland, it needs to be available nationwide for users to reap the benefits and for Ireland to compete effectively with our European counterparts,” he says.

The survey also found that although 65pc of firms are not capable of linking a laptop or personal digital assistant (PDA) using a wireless connection, 22pc say they are using wireless technology in their company. Also avowing interest in wireless LANs, 37pc say they see the benefit in having employee hot-desking and 26pc realise that wireless LANs save on troublesome and excessive cabling.

Email remains the killer app amongst Irish firms, a ‘must have’, with 96pc of Irish firms having email access. On average, 45pc of small firms spend over one hour a day accessing or sending emails. Email is, however, regarded poorly as a marketing tool at 7pc and permission-based email or mobile text marketing does not appear to be catching on very quickly.

By John Kennedy