homepage. The Internet is mainly seen as a marketing platform for advertisements by the
company or for its products. The rate of online sales was rather low (1%), in comparison to
online procurement, which nearly every fourth company used in 2001. More than 17 million
employees in the investigated industries were working with PCs at their offices and 4.9 million
of them had online access (FSO, 03).
Considering the size of firms, 68% of SMEs used PCs. While small firms in special industries in
the service sector such as software, telecommunication and data warehouse service providers had
a high penetration (up to 98%) of PCs, small firms in the manufacturing sector such as in the
print media industry used PCs on average of 93% in 2001 (FSO, 03).
In medium sized enterprises with 20 to 249 employees, 98% used computers in their business
processes. The Federal Statistical Office assumes that in firms with more than 20 employees one
can expect a nearly 100% coverage of PC technologies (FSO, 03).
Nearly all large enterprises with more than 250 employees deployed PCs, with one remarkable
exception. The diffusion of PC technology within the mail and courier services area has a
penetration rate of PCs of only 68%. Although the online usage of tracking and tracing systems
is rather common in Germany, the PC deployment per capita inside large carriers such as the
German Postal Service seems to be rather low (FSO, 03).
KEY BARRIERS AND INCENTIVES
Now that e commerce has shown its widespread potential to expand markets or to improve the
quality of existing and new business processes, e commerce is no longer only of interest to
dot.com start ups or large firms in Germany. While ICT and e commerce solutions are able to
support a large variety of internal and external business processes, the rate of diffusion still
seems to be closely connected to the structure, traditions and particularities of industry sectors.
Further differences are also observable at the country level in comparison to the results of the
As Table 12 indicates, competition is a significant factor for online activities. Nearly 43% of
establishments in the three sectors consider major competitors going online as a significant
incentive for e commerce use. While only 29.8% of the manufacturing industry viewed this
factor as significant, high competition is a significant pressure for distributors (45.5%) and even
more for financial firms (53.7%). Surprisingly, pressure by customers (24.8%) or suppliers
(8.3%) to use the Internet is rather low in Germany, compared to the global sample. One
explanation may be the extensive usage of EDI to transmit business messages. In this area,
especially in the retail & wholesale sector, one example showing how high pressure is exerted on
suppliers is that of Metro AG, one of the largest supermarket chains. Metro AG exerts pressure
on its suppliers to use the EDIFACT subset EANCOM. If a supplier is not able to submit
messages via EDI he has to pay an extra fee for the additional manual work required on each
The most important overall driver of Internet usage is the desire to expand markets for products
and services online (57.9%). This factor is less important for German bank and insurance
institutions (45.2%) due to the existing multi channel distribution strategy of their services on the