firms in this survey in Germany. Differences are observable when asking about Extranet usage
and the usage of call centers. Depending on the chosen definition, Extranets connect additional
establishments of the same firm as wide area networks and can offer access to suppliers and
customers. Given that most SMEs have only one establishment, the low diffusion of Extranet
technology might be a consequence of the missing necessity to connect other establishments over
wide area networks. To test this assumption a supplementary question about the usage of
Extranet technology to connect additional establishments is needed, i.e. in addition to the
questions about the functionalities of Extranets to allow access to suppliers or customers.
Interestingly, the usage of electronic funds transfer (EFT) is higher among SMEs than among
large establishments. This may be primarily due to the usage of online banking by SMEs which
may also be viewed as a type of EFT, while large establishments use such personnel intensive
and non automatic ways of transferring money less often. It should be noted that this electronic
form of banking is widespread within Europe, but is not available, for example, in the US. It is
fundamentally different and far exceeds what US banks refer to as electronic banking. The
semantic meaning of EFT is therefore different for large establishments and accompanied by
EDI transfer, rather than online transfer. Consequently, the two figures for SMEs and large
establishments are not directly comparable and need to be interpreted cautiously.
An additional remarkable difference between SMEs and large firms, the usage of call centers, is
somewhat more complex to explain. While the differences between the industry sectors are
explainable (manufacturing: product information; retail/wholesale: mail order business;
banking/insurance: telephone banking), the difference between SMEs and large firms might be
explainable by the personnel cost intensive nature of call centers which therefore are only
available to large firms.
TABLE 3 E Commerce Readiness by Size of Firm and Industry
Manufacturing Retail/ Banking/
100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
84.4 84.4 84.4 77.8
22.3 21.7 51.5 38.8
accessible by suppliers
accessible by customers
67.7 67.7 70.2 56.6
Electronic funds transfer
30.3 29.8 55.7 26.4
Results are weighted by the total number of establishments in an industry by size of firm.
Small firms are defined as firms with 25 to 250 employees.
Large firms are defined as firms with more than 250 employees.
Source: CRITO Global E Commerce Survey, 2002
Although Table 3 depicts a broad diffusion of e commerce enabling technologies, the survey
offers no information about the intensity of usage, the impacts on traditional working processes
or even the resulting efficiency. To analyze the character of e commerce readiness, a purely
descriptive comparison is not especially useful. Consequently, a DEA model described in the