LONDON: Fifty-six per cent of UK companies believe the internet has had a "substantial" or "revolutionary" impact on their industry, according to a report published Friday by the Confederation of British Industry.

The report, produced in cooperation with Google, reveals that UK firms are investing a total of £10.6 billion ($20.29bn; €15.70bn) annually on web-based systems. It predicts the figure will exceed £13bn by 2009.

Noting that the internet has brought major changes to the way industry does business, CBI director general Richard Lambert said: "Firms are learning more about harnessing the internet to benefit their staff, their customers and their future prospects. Serious investment is going into new internet technologies and this is set to increase."

On the consumer front, the survey noted that 60% of the public believe the internet has given them more power. Moreover, 43% think that companies have become more accountable as a result of the new technology.

However, a dangerous vagueness still fogs half of British industry, with 31% of respondents admitting to "limited understanding of the online environment" and "uncertainty over how internet marketing fits in with the overall marketing mix" (29%).

The web has also had a substantial impact on working practices. Almost three-quarters (72%) of firms now use online technology to enable their staff to work from home.

Most firms (84%) said these new technologies improved internal communications, 75% felt likewise about productivity and over half (56%) staff morale.

Data sourced from BBC Online and CBI; additional content by WARC staff