Ecat wraps up, hoping e-commerce stimulus will continue

The Electronic Commerce Action Team, winding up its two-and-a-half-year life, claims it has been instrumental in improving e-commerce awareness but says issues such as an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure are still holding the country back.

The Electronic Commerce Action Team, which is winding up its two-and-a-half-year life, claims it has been instrumental in improving e-commerce awareness but says issues such as an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure are still holding the country back.

Ecat was founded in the wake of government’s e-commerce summit, in March 2001. Apart from five people appointed by Swain to lead the group, 12 members represented industry sectors such as accountancy, local government, farming, trade unions and banking. Its rationale was that it would facilitate and initiate work at the grassroots in key sectors with the idea that there would be spin-off effects into a wide range of industries.

All actions set out early by the team have been implemented, Ecat claims.

These include:

  • The implementation of e-certification by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

  • The development of a Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection

  • The issue of the New Zealand model code for consumer protection in electronic commerce

  • The delivery of e-commerce capability development programmes by Industry New Zealand and Trade New Zealand.
Through supporting the establishment of a “regional broadband forum” Ecat played a part in the evolution of the Probe project and a number of regional broadband initiatives.

Between mid-2000 and mid-2002 the number of businesses with their own domain name increased from 33% to 60%. Over half of businesses are ordering goods or services and over a third selling over the internet, Ecat says in its final report.

Early in its existence Ecat recruited existing organisations, such as Tuanz, the Bankers’ Association, Federated Farmers and the NZ chambers of commerce, to examine the current status of e-commerce in 11 sectors and create and execute sectoral “action plans”.

Those sector organisations “will continue to carry the e-commerce torch” says the report, and a number of the initiatives that Ecat has been involved with, such as broadband and the promotion in New Zealand of the extensible business reporting language (XBRL), will continue under their own momentum.

A research symposium "ICTs in New Zealand: Consequences and Innovations” was organised in June 2002 by ECAT member Dr Shirley Leitch and brought together government officials and researchers from a number of universities and private organisations (see Firms cotton on to e-commerce: MED study). This came out with the statistics on e-commerce growth above and other results, encouraging and otherwise, here.

The team led creation of the e-commerce website, which still provides a forum and resource for organisations moving into e-commerce.

“Good progress has been made, but we must not rest on our laurels,” Ecat concludes.

“Further efforts need to be made to increase the [e-commerce] capability of businesses, particularly small businesses, and we encourage the government to continue to work in this area. Work also needs to continue on improving New Zealand’s telecommunications infrastructure to allow people to make the most of the opportunities offered by new technology.”

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