e-Business Usage

The term usage refers to the frequency of use of e-business channels. This can be measured in absolute figures, such as 'number of visits to the homepage', 'volume of online sales', 'number of transactions completed' or 'number of goods offered via the internet' (see also Bouwman/Holland 2002; on general measurement problems see Tehan 2000). Such figures are helpful to observe the development of e-business over time, they are not very meaningful for documenting the actual importance of electronic business. Therefore, e-business usage should also be captured in terms of shares of e-business as a percentage of all business activity. It might also be interesting to know whether the usage of e-business channels substitutes traditional business or adds up to it.

Apart from the intensity of use, usage indicators should document which applications are most frequently adopted. The application categories can only be differentiated in a rather summarised way, in order not to overload the survey. Hence the three categories given in the tender might be used as a manageable approximation. Usage may thus be divided into (1) general information and communication management, (2) specific use of ICT for particular business processes, and (3) e-commerce. This allows a separation of e-business and e-commerce activities and divides internal usages into information management and business process management.

In addition, usage on the demand side may be covered by indicators that describe usage patterns. These indicators give the distribution of computer time between different uses for age groups and gender. Demand side indicators about consumers are not covered by the e-Business W@tch, which takes a sectoral perspective.