ByJohn S. McClenahen Even during the most recent U.S. recession and the continuing economic slowdown, manufacturers are continuing to invest in e-business. In the short-term, investment is being driven by productivity increases and cost savings within sales, service and production, reveals a survey of 500 firms done by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers and Ernst & Young LLP. According to the survey, during the past year, the number of manufacturers using the Internet to sell 6% or more of their goods to consumers or other companies quadrupled to nearly 25%. However, many manufacturers are maintaining manual processes to accommodate customers that are not electronically connected. Indeed, 47% of companies surveyed cite a lack of customer e-business readiness as the primary barrier to their developing and implementing e-business initiatives.