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Small is e-beautiful

11 February 2004

Small is e-beautiful

SMALL MANUFACTURING COMPANIES are leading the way in internet e-business in the West Midlands, according to a survey conducted by Aston University's Professor Ashok Kochhar and researcher John Dilworth.

Their study of over 50 West Midlands' companies aimed to discover what the region's manufacturers are doing in terms of e-business and the use of the internet.

'We found that, while e-business is set to rise in all sizes of West Midlands manufacturing businesses, larger companies are still keen to expand the more expensive, traditional methods of company interaction, such as electronic data interchange,' said John Dilworth.

'Smaller businesses have never before had the power or funding to use such systems and are therefore approaching the concept of internet e-business with the most enthusiasm,' he continued.

The report's findings also concur with a recent BBC Money Programme report which found that there is renewed confidence in the dot.com industry.

Acme Whistles Ltd perfectly illustrates the trend. The Birmingham-based manufacturer, which exports its whistles around the world, has seen incremental improvements since incorporating the internet into its business.

'Sales at Acme Whistles over the Web are doubling year on year and increasing margins. At the same time it is a time-saving way of sourcing materials and support services for manufacturing. It is inconceivable that we could live without it now,' considers its chief executive, Simon Topman.

'So many worldwide contracts can be found and bid for over the internet and presenting our own distribution with such a vast channel of communication has halved our response time to enquiries,' he continued.

The use of the internet to perform everyday business activities, such as communication with other companies and employees, or gaining and analysing information, has already benefited many organisations, the report found. Its flexibility and processing speed can help reduce business overheads. The report also shows that the internet tends to minimise the risk of distortion of information as there is no requirement for middlemen.

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Written by Babs Coombes. Contact me for further information or for a copy of the survey's findings. Tel: 0121 204 3000 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research