‘Over 40% of people in the UK have access to a personal computer at home. Some play games, some use it for educational purposes, and some for work. However, over 30% can access the internet and this number is growing rapidly.

Make no mistake, technological advancements in communications are making massive changes to your personal and working life, the way you work, shop, research, communicate, promote and distribute.

However, the timber industry is facing large gaps in the way the internet is used. Some have recognised the opportunities and have highly developed systems and websites. Others have chosen to ignore the issue.

Osmose is a multi-national company with offices all over the world. The benefits of e-mail were essential in developing good communication between operations. Once the internal e-mail was operational the benefits of connecting it to the internet to allow external e-mail quickly became apparent.

Osmose now has 90% of its staff with personal e-mail accounts and a large proportion of these can access the internet.

Osmose recently launched its new website www.osmose.co.uk. It is becoming part of the company’s overall promotional mix and can be used to portray Osmose’s image and develop brand values. The site enables users to access information and get an overall feel for the company.

Improved access to information has aided research, especially in marketing and R&D, and links to other useful websites are included to widen the resource appeal.

One internet facility that has had an effect on virtually every business is e-mail. This low cost global communication system has many benefits. It provides easy personal single and multiple distribution at the same speed, time zones do not become an issue and messages can be stored and retrieved without physical filing systems.

The only disadvantage is that communication is so easy, it is possible to experience information overload.

At Osmose the company’s internal network or ‘intranet’ is used for internal e-mail and information management. It forms a single central data source containing customer information, technical enquiries, product information and marketing information. The internal network is also permanently connected to the internet for forwarding external e-mail and web access.

In addition, internal networks can be extended to include some key suppliers or customers and these are known as extranets.

Whatever stage your business is at there are major benefits in using the internet and as time passes and trading becomes more widely accepted, barriers to new markets and innovation will only be restricted by your own capabilities.’