More than 90 percent of companies in the United States and 86 percent of the companies in Britain are now using the Internet for such activities. In contrast, 60 percent of the organizations in Japan and 36 percent in France are using the Internet as a marketing channel or customer service mechanism.
The survey uncovered similar results when it came to for Internet use for internal business functions, such as employee schedule management, knowledge management, supply chain management and training, with companies in Denmark, France, Japan and Singapore reporting fewer internal uses of Internet applications than their British or American counterparts.
When given a choice of 10 Internet applications to choose from (CRM, e-mail, employee schedule management, knowledge management, marketing, order fulfillment, selling, supply chain management, training and wireless access), American and British companies claim to use an average of five different applications. In comparison, the average is between two and three different applications in the other countries surveyed.
Naturally, the survey suggests that American and British companies have developed a more comprehensive use of the Internet for a wider range of applications, and they've done this by investing more heavily in e-solutions in recent years. Meanwhile, companies in countries like Japan and France have typically focused on more traditional methods of marketing and selling products and have been slower to adopt wider Internet applications beyond e-mail.
While companies within the United States and British markets are likely to have invested more in Internet applications in recent years, the study found that around two-thirds of companies in both the United States (63 percent) and Britain (66 percent) intended to decrease their Internet-related expenditure over the next year. At the same time, similar proportions in France (56 percent) and Japan (61 percent) expected to increase Internet-related expenditures.
"Our findings show that some markets have clearly been much faster than others in realizing the potential of the Internet for business applications other then e-mail," said Chandra Chaterji, senior vice president of Taylor Nelson Sofres Information Technology. "In many ways this is a reflection of the cultural differences towards doing business in different countries. In Japan, and to some extent in France too, face-to-face contact continues to be extremely important and the more impersonal approach of an online transaction may still not be considered to be a satisfactory way of conducting business. Nonetheless, there seems to be a realization in markets like Japan, France and elsewhere that investment in e-solutions has lagged behind that in some other major economies and there is a need to start exploring the full potential of online applications to businesses in the future."