Get IT out of e-commerce projects, Aussie study says

Survey says biggest barrier to success is resistance from IT, but Aussie CIO questions findings

John Croker, CIO of Australian paint and surface coatings company Wattyl, has labelled an Australian federal government study into B2B (business to business) e-business projects as “dumb”.

The nine-month study, which was released last week, claims IT managers are a key barrier to the success of B2B e-business projects.

This is because one of the main obstacles to e-business project success is engaging trading partners and getting them to connect to the new system, it concludes.

However, Croker says organisations involved in B2B trading would only avoid IT if they want the project to fail.

“If you don’t want the system to work then avoid IT. I think this suggestion is dumb,” he says.

“IT doesn’t hinder these projects — they make it happen and it is critical to get IT involved from the very beginning, rather than later.

“We are actively involved in B2B trading and when we approached partners we always included IT because it is a team endeavour and their involvement is critical to ensuring things happen and timelines are met,” he says.

To encourage adoption, the report recommends targeting business and operational executives, not IT, because IT staff are most likely to put up barriers.

Commissioned by the Australian Department of IT, Communications and the Arts (DCITA), the report says to: “Package systems so IT involvement in the decision-making process is minimised, or eliminated altogether, as a significant enabler.”

Undertaken by S2 Intelligence, the research involved 54 organisations and 12 e-business systems, covering building and construction, telecommunications, manufacturing, agriculture, business services, insurance and financial services.

Bruce McCabe, S2 Intelligence managing director, says that while IT staff do raise legitimate issues, such as security, they actually create more problems when it comes to B2B trading systems.

“The barriers are political, not technical, and are around issues of ownership. When technology is being developed by another company and introduced to them, they want to know where it came from, rather than asking if it’s good for the business,” McCabe says.

“It is best to interact with operational or business staff to avoid resistance from IT.”

The research has been translated into a 56-point checklist for managers implementing these systems and copies are to be made available shortly.

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