German firms feel they are able to improve their internal processes, compared to only 33.9% of 
the global sample. The lowest efficiency gains are reported in the banking/insurance industry, 
where only 22.8% see any improvements. While the efficiency of internal processes has 
increased, staff productivity did not increase in the same way. Only 18.6% of the German sample 
believes that e commerce has had a positive impact on staff productivity. Aside from operational 
process improvements, e commerce also has positive effects on the external, market oriented 
side. Twenty eight percent of German firms (compared to only 19.5% of the global sample), 
especially in the retail/wholesale sector (35.6%), were able to increase their international sales 
via the Internet. In contrast, procurement costs decreased less significantly than in the global 
sample. Only 1.3% of the manufacturing and banking/insurance industries were able to reduce 
their costs of procurement, in comparison to the retail/wholesale sector where 14.8% mentioned 
decreases. This is due to the still low prices on the competitive traditional market. The same 
holds true when asking about inventory costs. Most establishments have an efficient system in 
place, so the possibilities of additional optimization benefits are rather slim. Due to existing EDI 
systems, the coordination with suppliers, for instance, was already made possible and enabled in 
the pre e commerce era. Therefore, the impact of online services is not as important and far 
reaching for German firms. On the other hand, there is still a large unused potential for greater 
coordination within the retail/wholesale industry (only 9.0%), and for the integration of SMEs in 
general.
The impact of e commerce applications on SMEs and large establishments in Germany may also 
be calculated by using the Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) described in the methods section 
above. The DEA utilizes the 202 data points as decision making units (DMU) of the German 
sample. Afterwards, the results are divided into  efficient  (e.g., SME+ for SMEs and Large+ for 
large establishments) and  inefficient  (without +).
In Figure 12, the results of the DEA are provided for the manufacturing industry. Efficient SMEs 
(24.2% of all SMEs in this sector) use, on average, about 70% of available Internet possibilities 
and gain high benefits from them (Index about 3.2). Efficient large establishments (37.1% of all 
large establishments in this sector) use, on average, only 61.5% of all Internet applications and 
gain only 2.7 on the satisfaction index scale.
Relatively inefficient establishments use only 39.4% (SME) and 37.0% (large establishments) of 
available Internet solutions on average, but generate the same satisfaction with 1.9 each. If the 
satisfaction with e commerce correlates positively with the intensity of available Internet 
applications, then  inefficient  SMEs should be able to gain more, until now unrealized, benefits 
than large firms. On average, the DEA model identified 30.9% of establishments in the 
manufacturing sample as  efficient.  
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