Only 2% of UK manufacturing companies have effective web sites

A survey of 100 manufacturing companies based in the Midlands has revealed that only 2% of companies have web sites designed to generate a commercial return.

Colin Boag, Managing Director of JBS Computer Services Limited, the company that undertook the survey, believes this indicates that manufacturers are missing out on the clear business-to-business benefits that the Internet can deliver.

‘Very often the decisions regarding the back-office systems (ERP, transaction-processing, etc) within a company are made separately from those involving the Internet (the web-site, e-commerce, etc). But it’s only if these two parts are integrated completely that the real business benefits start to be achieved. If a company’s core systems aren’t up to scratch then the best web site in the world won’t deliver benefit. In fact, it could possibly even be damaging because the web is so great at creating expectations that it can sometimes be hard to meet the customers’ requirements – I think we saw a lot of that with Business-to-Consumer sites last Christmas. However, if a company can really link a sound back-office system with a well-designed web presence and a good e-business or e-commerce offering, then the possibilities are tremendous – that’s what we call ‘joined-up computing’.’

JBS Computer Services Limited of West Bromwich undertook the web-based survey during March. Out of the 100 companies surveyed, 52% of companies didn’t have a web site at all, 36% had brochureware sites but only 2% had web sites clearly designed to deliver business benefits. Boag believes that companies may consider that the entry costs to e-commerce are too great and therefore choose the lower cost, brochureware route.

‘E-commerce – when integrated with ERP – is very cost effective given the commercial returns that can be generated and overhead savings that can be made. Companies should begin with a carefully documented e-commerce strategy so that even if the first step is an information-based web site, migration to integrated e-commerce can be undertaken without losing the value of their Internet or ERP investments to date.’