Internet – Small companies ignore Web

Europe’s owner-managed businesses are not taking advantage of the opportunities of electronic commerce, according to a European business survey, due to be issued next month by Grant Thornton.

The survey asked 50,000 businesses over 20 European countries whether they had an Internet site and whether they use the Web for information and to buy and sell.

Further questions covered the use of computers within companies and attitudes to computer security controls.

Grant Thornton partner Patrick Brooke said: ‘We have not received the full results yet, but I would be surprised if the use of the Internet for e-commerce was not sparse. It is still early days for owner-managed businesses in general.’

Brooke added that there are always pockets of entrepreneurs who embrace new technology, but the majority of small businesses had yet to realise e-commerce’s potential due to their ongoing concerns about issues of security.

Grant Thornton, however, expects that once the sector begins to understand the benefits, the situation will change rapidly due to the flat management structures, which mean decisions can be made quickly.

The other main issue the firm expects to result from the survey is the lack of training within owner-managed businesses. Brooke said that owners often recognise the benefits of training but are unwilling to commit resources due to the time it takes to show results.

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