Successful small and medium sized companies use the Internet. So goes the reasoning of the Task Force KMU, which recently published its yearly study of Internet behaviour of some 2,000 companies.
More than 70 per cent of the companies that reported an increase in revenues last year reported that they are also Internet users, says the study. Forty per cent of the companies that reported a reduction in their revenues did not use the Internet.
Therefore, there is a correlation between the use of the Internet and growth in revenue, concludes the study by the Task Force KMU. The task force is a unit of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) and it has carried out this survey each year since 1999.
Sixty-five percent of the 2,000 firms surveyed by the task force use the Internet. "The study shows that SMEs [Small and Medium sized Enterprises] have overcome their fear of the Internet," say the report's authors.
The survey showed an eight per cent increase in use over last year. The hospitality and construction industries are catching up with finance and technology sectors as users of the Internet, says the report.
The most popular applications are Email (80 per cent); own web site (40 per cent). The use of external extranets has increased by 23 per cent, says the report.
The outlook for Internet investment for 2002 is quite positive. Some SFr2.7 billion are forecast to be invested in Internet services by this user group. The expenses are to improve communications and increase productivity, says the survey.
It appears that for KMU the Internet is critical; to encourage SME firms to use the Internet, the task force has set up a web site to promote its use www.kmuinfo.ch.
Small and medium sized companies dominate the Swiss economy. According to Seco's analysis of the 300,000 companies registered with the agency, 99.7 per cent of them are SMEs.
Three-quarters of the Swiss working population work for a small or medium sized firm. Over 89 per cent of the companies registered with Seco have less than ten employees.
The second largest group, which is composed of firms employing ten to 49 people, makes up only nine per cent of the companies registered. Just two per cent of all SMEs employ 50 to 249 people.
by Valerie Thompson