These are the findings of an economic survey carried out amongst business-related service providers by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim, in collaboration with the “Verband der Vereine Creditreform”, Neuss, in June and July 2001. This survey is undertaken on a quarterly basis and concerns approximately 1,000 businesses in the following sectors: tax advisers and certified public accountants, business consultants, architects, technical planners, vehicle rental companies, machine rental companies, cargo handling and logistic firms, software providers, advertising agencies and waste management firms.
The internet is used as standard by these companies, regardless of which of the ten sectors considered they are active in, and whether or not they are located in East or West Germany. The majority of businesses also use the internet to present their company homepage. Business-related service providers with their own homepage produce almost 90 per cent of all turnover generated by these sectors. This proportion is relatively low, however, amongst architects, tax advisers and certified public accountants, where businesses which make use of the internet generate around 75 per cent of total turnover.
The use of e-mail is now also standard amongst business-related service providers. In total, an average of 60 per cent of all employees have their own e-mail address. In 2000, only 50 per cent of employees had individual e-mail address.
With 80 per cent, the proportion of employees with their own e-mail address is higher in West Germany than in East Germany (20 per cent). All employees working for IT service providers, for business consultants and businesses in the advertising sector, have their own e-mail address. E-mail plays an important role in the business process and the provision of these knowledge-intensive services. This is not the case for vehicle rental companies and waste management firms. In these rather traditional sectors, the proportion of employees with their own e-mail address is only around 20 per cent.
The expansion in use of electronic commerce (E-Commerce) as a new sales channels, which has developed thanks to the implementation of new ICT technologies, also reflects the variety of businesses included amongst business-related service providers. Around 30 per cent of the turnover generated by business-related service providers is produced by businesses that have implemented E-Commerce in their dealings with other businesses (B2B). The use of E-Commerce solutions is much greater, however, amongst knowledge-intensive service providers such as business consultants (43 per cent), than it is amongst machine and vehicle rental companies (25 and 17 per cent respectively). It is IT service providers (51 per cent) that use these technologies to the greatest extent.
The significance of E-Commerce, measured in terms of the turnover which businesses generate via these channels, remains low at only one per cent. This proportion is slightly higher, however, at five per cent, amongst service providers and businesses in the advertising sector, as well as amongst vehicle and machine rental businesses.
Since 2000, the proportion of turnover generated by business-related service providers who use an Intranet service has increased by 20 per cent, today totalling around 60 per cent. IT service providers, business consultants and businesses in the advertising sector also lead when it comes to use of internet technologies. In comparison, vehicle rental companies, cargo handling and logistic firms, as well as tax advisers and certified public accountants make rather limited use of the internet.
Business-related service providers are likely to further expand their ICT infrastructures in the future. Around 75 per cent of the turnover of business-related service providers is generated by businesses who say they wish to increase their use of ICT technologies within the next two years. The majority of businesses that are currently planning an expansion in their ICT infrastructures do not expect to see any increases in efficiency. The costs of investment and the ongoing maintenance costs of ICT technologies do not, however, pose any obstacle to business-related service providers, which generally call on external businesses for these services. Equally therefore, the acquisition of specialist workers who are able to maintain ICT technologies, does not constitute a barrier to the expanded use of ICT technologies.