The strategy consulting firm BCG recently conducted a global study of small business Internet use. The goal of the study was to understand how use of the Internet related to small business performance.
Based on survey results, BCG divided small businesses into 4 buckets - high, medium, low and non-users of the Internet and related technologies. They then compared sales growth, profitability and other business performance measures by these categories.
BCG found that small businesses that were high users of the Internet and related technologies substantially out-performed those that were low users or didn't use the Web at all.
Key quote on their U.S. results:
In the U.S, high- and medium-Web businesses expect to grow by 17 percent over the next three years, compared with 12 percent for their low-Web and no-Web counterparts. High- and medium-Web businesses have also increased the size of their workforces to support their Internet operations over the past three years, an otherwise dire period for job growth in the developed economies.
The results for other countries were even more dramatic.
These results seem intuitively obvious, but they're not. We've looked at a lot of studies that attempt to show technology use and business performance are tightly linked. Most don't, or are done in a way that bias the outcome heavily in favor of technology use.