in Germany. In fact, the high level of ICT and e commerce usage enables SMEs, in particular, to
achieve the full potential of these benefits.
Proposition 2: SMEs are important drivers of e commerce implementation and
usage. The innovation friendly character of SMEs in the form of early adopters of new
technologies together with the potential benefits offered by a variety of different solutions
will help to close the digital divide between large firms and SMEs.
As an export oriented nation, Germany has to compete in nearly all economic sectors on an
international level. Due to this, the need for cost oriented and efficient production and
distribution processes has a long tradition. Nevertheless, some industry sectors have done better
and are today relatively more famous for their long tradition of computer based electronic data
processing and transmission than other sectors. For instance, inside the manufacturing sector, the
automotive industry developed successful EDI standards and delivery processes, resulting in
considerable savings of time and money. Data medium exchange, EDI standards such as SWIFT,
as well as payment clearing in computer centers are inventions made in the last century in the
banking industry. In comparison to these two latter sectors with their high market concentration
and mature experiences in electronic based business processing, the retail and wholesale sectors
are much more fragmented and best practice cases such as in the latter sectors are relatively
unknown. EDI diffusion in these two sectors, for instance, is not as far developed as in the other
two sectors surveyed in this paper.
Proposition 3: The affiliation to an industry sector has a direct impact on the extent
of diffusion of e commerce related technologies and standards within that industry.
Industries with a long tradition in mainframe and EDI applications enjoy better
prerequisites to initiate successful e commerce solutions.
Gaining the full potential and benefits from e commerce technologies depends, aside from the
size and industry affiliation of a firm, even more on the subsequent integration and
implementation into business processes (while, at the same time, these processes must be
adjusted). The efficient and consistent usage is therefore more important than the mere existence
of such technologies.
Proposition 4: A strategic and consistent realization of e commerce is necessary to
develop its full benefit. An efficient implementation improves the strategic position of a
firm and increases both the measurable outputs and the satisfaction with new
technologies. Therefore, the efficient use of e commerce is positively related to the
number of e commerce solutions deployed.
In order to analyze the stated propositions, the authors describe the methods used to identify the
rate of e commerce diffusion among the surveyed industries. The following section provides
information about the underlying survey and the empirical data used to test the validity of the
formulated propositions. This is followed by a discussion of the chosen methods of analysis and
the results to explain the rate of diffusion, as well as efficient usage behavior.