Sounds good? Well, actually… More detailed data shows the following worrisome trends:
- Use of computers has actually fallen from 98% of enterprises surveyed in 2008 to 97% in 2009. It has remained static at 98% in Manufacturing sector, fallen from 99% to 96% in Construction sector (possibly a function of inactive enterprises, or in the opposite direction – a surprising result if the survivourship bias applies to the sample). In Services sector there was a decline from 98% to 97% between 2008 and 2009. These results are rather strange. On one hand, if the sample included inactive firms, then one can expect the declines due to companies folding operations in Construction and lower value-added Services sectors. But if only actively trading firms were included, then this suggests that survivourship bias was actually selecting against the ICT-using firms for some unexplainable reason.
- Interestingly, the proportion of firms with a written ICT strategy has increase overall from 20% in 2008 to 21% in 2009, and in no sub-sector was there a decline in proportion. Construction sector firms led here with an increase from 8% in 2008 to 11% in 2009, which suggests that CSO sample incorporates survivourship bias. And this is really bizarre – on one hand, sample selection clearly favoured surviving firms that have ICT policies, but on the other hand the same sample favoured survivor firms with lower penetration of ICT… Hmmm…
- Proportion of firms using internet fell from 96% to 95% between 2008 and 2009. The declines were showing in all three broader sectors, with Construction firms registering the largest drop from 99% to 96%. This is again inconsistent with survivourship bias apparently present in the data. But even more strange were the results for the percentages of firms having their own websites. In Manufacturing, the number of firms with their own websites rose strongly from 72% a year ago to 77% in 2009. In Construction sector, surviving firms actually dramatically increased their websites presence from 48% to 58% despite having shown a decline in internet use in general. There was a decline in proportion of companies with their websites in Services sector – from 65% to 64%.
- Overall use of e-services (interfacing either with the public sector or private sector clients) has declined across the board except for Manufacturing sector.
- E-commerce is growing strongly with percentages of purchases and sales via e-commerce pathways as a share of total purchase costs and turnover, respectively, rose strongly between 2008 and 2009. But as in 2008, most of e-Commerce appears to be driven by purchases, not sales. And in volumes, e-Commerce has declined in line with overall economic activities. There is only tentative evidence that e-Commerce has taken up some of the traditional purchasing and sales activities share during this recession.
- Another interesting and surprising feature of the data shows that enterprises with access to broadband have reduced their e-Commerce-based purchases from 60% to 54%, and also reduced their e-Commerce-based sales from 28% to 23%. Enterprises with no connection to broadband have lowered their purchases via e-Commerce vehicles from 29% to 24% and their sales from 14% to 9%. This seem to show that access to broadband does not result in more resilience to the recessionary contraction in enterprise activities. But, enterprises with broadband connection have retained their propensity to employ workers who e-work at 37%, while enterprises with no broadband connection have increased this share from 9% to 10%. Rising workforce mobility and flexibility for those with no broadband connection while static workforce mobility / flexibility for those with broadband connection? Clearly this can’t be happening…