Most of the 1,200 companies worldwide that responded to the survey said they do not have any form of online transactional or information-sharing capabilities with their suppliers.
Dell paid for the study, which was conducted by the University of Texas-Austin's Center for Research in Electronic Commerce.
This week, Dell Computer announced its Dell Marketplace service, an online exchange aimed at its U.S. business customers. The exchange will launch next month.
Dell officials concede the study could be perceived as self-serving but maintain that the methodology and results are independent.
According to the study, a company's financial performance is strongly tied to its investment in electronic commerce.
Other key findings:
Companies that see an improvement in their financial performance over a set period of time have up to 48 percent of their customers doing business online. Those with no improved financial performance conduct about 15 to 17 percent of their business online.
Larger firms â€“ those with more than $10 million in revenue â€“ that invest in e-commerce have an average increase in return on that investment of 21 percent. Smaller companies have a return of 50 percent. The complexity of e-commerce at larger companies explains the difference, the study said.
About 61 percent of those surveyed don't have any online processes for employees, such as Web-enabled sites for benefits and travel authorization.