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The Internet saves small businesses in the UK more than £4bn a year, according to research published today to mark the start of the Internet World conference and exhibition in London.

The research found that seven out of ten of all small businesses in the UK have invested in the Internet. Those behind today's study reckon this shows that despite difficult economic times, companies have continued to invest in their future.

Over the last two years each company has spent just under £5,000 on developing Internet-enabled systems for their businesses.

In return for that investment, companies have saved five man-hours per day – a saving of around £14,500 for each company a year.

In total, the research estimates that Net technology has saved the UK’s SMEs more than 378 million man hours – a saving of around £4bn a year.

Tom Ward-Lee, director of Internet World, believes these figures reveal exactly the kinds of benefits small businesses can get from the Net.

"Though we have come a long way in the last ten years, through continuing to place technology at the heart of business, these substantial savings will be simply the tip of the iceberg," he said.

Which is nice. ®

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