10/10/2001

Steady progress for NI businesses in Information Age

Northern Ireland continues to show that it is advancing in the Information Age, according to the DTI International Benchmarking Survey for 2001 which is to be published this week.

Announcing a number of initiatives taking place during the UK Online for Business e-Business Week, Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, welcomed the news that the vast majority of Northern Ireland firms believe that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are relevant to their businesses and that they offer tangible benefits.

He said: "I am very encouraged that despite the difficulties in the global marketplace over the past year and the scepticism of some commentators about e-business hype, Northern Ireland has continued to make steady progress in the uptake and use of ICTs.

"Some 90 per cent of our local businesses have access to the Internet and 69 per cent now have a website. These figures are up by five per cent and 23 per cent respectively and it is interesting to see that of those firms which have a presence on the Web, almost two thirds evaluate its success.

“This indicates that businesses here are not simply adopting the new technologies because they are there but are looking critically at the bottom line benefits which they can bring.

"Further evidence of this is the fact that e-commerce here has increased by six per cent to 30 per cent and a fifth of Northern Ireland businesses now provide online information on delivery times and costs, while 44 per cent provide online information on products/services availability, terms and conditions.

"All these results are just above the UK average and in addition a higher proportion of Northern Ireland businesses provide information on purchasing requirements online than any other UK region."

Referring to the model of e-business adoption used by the Information Age Initiative the Minister added: "The ultimate aim is to see more Northern Ireland businesses fully embracing the new technologies and integrating them throughout the business processes. On one indicator of e-business uptake - the use of ICTs to change the way goods and services are provided – Northern Ireland out-performs all but London and the South East regions.

"This survey provides clear evidence that Northern Ireland businesses are rising to the many challenges of competing in the global marketplace and using ICTs in a progressive way to help them achieve this."

Sir Reg commended the work of the Information Age Leapfrog Initiative and the DETI businesses in supporting and encouraging firms here to assess their e-position and move to adopting ICTs. (MB)

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