BERLIN: Exactly half of German brand owners are now "heavily dependent" on the internet, according to new research.

BITKOM, the trade body, and the Instituts der Deutschen Wirtschaft Köln, an academic institution, surveyed 2,500 enterprises of varying sizes.

They reported that 50% of organisations are currently "heavily dependent" on the web, which enjoys a "lesser role" for 32% of companies. Only 18% of firms do not yet boast an online presence.

More specifically, 18% of businesses were found to be "digital pioneers" that were either almost or entirely reliant on new media tools and capabilities.

Elsewhere, the analysis revealed that 44% of organisations believe the web has a central part to play in customer service and working with other companies.

Another 37% afforded it a vital position with regard to making sales, while 29% of featured operators utilised this medium for procurement purposes.

For an additional 17% of brand owners, the internet had a "decisive influence" on their "most important product or main service", the study added.

Among the broader findings identified by the research was that 18% of "digital pioneers" typically had much stronger innovation records than the 32% of "laggards" which are using this medium but have not fully embraced its potential.

In all, the top performers generated an average 32% of their turnover from new product launches, dropping to 18% for their less nimble rivals.

"The study shows how the internet has a key role in almost all economic sectors," said Dieter Kempf, president of BITKOM. "In addition to the digitisation of the economy, we must now put focus on the modernization of the related infrastructure."

Data sourced from BITKOM; additional content by Warc staff