Britain edges ahead of US and logs on to e-business

The UK is on the verge of a huge e-business explosion, research by MORI has revealed. The survey of 700 companies in the US, the UK and the rest of Europe found that UK companies are creeping ahead of US rivals in their use of electronic commerce.

The research, conducted for global software group Intentia, shows UK e-sales set to reach $65bn (£40.4bn) within the next two years. Of the UK companies polled, 64% said e-business would become essential to business by 2001 – ahead of the figure for both the US and the rest of Europe.

Intentia UK managing director Linus Parker said firms’ spending on preventing the millennium bug had made executives wake up to the value of information technology investment.

The survey also found that many UK organisations see e-business in broader supply chain terms than their peers in the US and continental Europe, as 39% predicted they will use the internet to manage stocks. By contrast, only 32% of European companies and 34% of US businesses believe they will do this.

`In the future we will have a number of supply chain blocks competing with each other, rather than individual companies,’ Parker predicted.

But doubts remain, as 43% of UK board directors questioned said waiting for suppliers and customers to adopt the latest technology could be a barrier to the development of e-commerce.

Parker said this is because the UK is coming from behind when compared with the US and Sweden in particular, but he expects the number of internet-enabled companies to rise rapidly.

`We should see a wave of companies adopting e-commerce over the next two years, with UK businesses releasing pent-up IT requirements,’ Parker said.