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UK small businesses can see if their e-business performance is up to scratch following the creation of a new online benchmarking survey.

UK Online for Business, a government agency, has launched the new web-based service specifically for small and medium sized firms to find out how their e-business progress fares on a regional, national and industry sector basis.

The survey, part of an international benchmarking campaign across the G& industrialised countries, requires a company to answer 25 e-business-related questions.

The system then measures the answers against other responses, allowing entrepreneurs to find out how well they, and their competitors, are doing.

The survey quizzes companies on their implementation of IT, sales systems, use of technology and overall IT strategy.

Users are then given suggestions on how to improve on certain areas and are provided with links to other agencies that may be able to help them.

Information and communication technology is becoming increasingly important for UK businesses in the modern economy, with many now totally reliant on IT and internet systems to run their firms.

Research has found that many entrepreneurs consider losing email capabilities as a major trauma, while consumers spent more money on the internet than in shops over the Christmas period last year – the first time that e-commerce had overtaken traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shopping.

Liz Grant, of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said that the new tool gives companies the chance to find out exactly where they stand in terms of e-business.

“Not only does it offer vital information looking at how your business is faring against other companies for a sector or region, but it also provides links to appropriate areas of the UK Online website to help you improve areas of IT use identified through the tool,” she said.

To register for the free service click on www.ukonlineforbusiness.gov.uk/benchmarking

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