UK businesses are largely ignoring enterprise resource planning systems, official figures have revealed.
Research carried out for the first time ever by the Office for National Statistics found that only 6.5% of 8,000 businesses surveyed were using ERP systems in 2006 – a figure that rose to 37.2% for the largest companies with more than 1,000 employees.
Weighted figures, adjusted to take account of the proportions of businesses of different sizes across the UK, show that less than a third of all UK companies – 30.2% - are estimated to be using ERP systems.
Gartner research director Chad Eschinger said the UK’s use of ERP systems was “lower than expected” but was likely to be “in line with other technology mature countries and markets”.
In the US, the largest penetration of ERP systems is in the top 2000 businesses by size, “which we estimate to be closer to 95% plus penetration”, Eschinger said.
“As we move down in size of enterprise the revenue and penetration trails off significantly by the lower end of employee size. If I look at our research, which applies revenue by similar size of company bands worldwide there are similar percentages.”
The ONS survey found that customer relationship management software had been adopted by a higher percentage of firms, with 11.1% of all those surveyed saying they used CRM to share information internally and 10.9% using CRM systems to support external marketing work.
In larger firms with more than 1,000 employees, around 42% were using CRM systems, while the weighted figures suggest that across all UK companies around 35% have adopted CRM.
Unweighted figures show that small businesses with between 10 and 50 staff are making significantly more use of CRM systems – with 8.8% using them to share information internally and 8.4% for marketing – than ERP systems, where penetration is just 3.8%
The research shows significant use of free open source operating systems such as Linux among larger companies, with 29.4% of firms employing more than 1,000 staff going down the open source route.
Among all the businesses surveyed, 6.3% said they used open source, with the size-weighted figures suggesting that across all UK businesses more than one fifth – 22.6% - are now using open source operating systems.
The ONS figures cover private sector firms. Ministers have recently admitted that the government does not know how much open source software it uses, despite a 2004 pledge to avoid “lock-in” to proprietary systems.