Foresty industry goes for .Net technology

New Zealand's largest training organisation, Forest Industries Training, has launched a portal using .Net technology.

New Zealand's largest training organisation, Forest Industries Training, has launched a portal using .Net technology.

The site was developed by Auckland-based Terabyte International and went live on Thursday.

Forest Industries Training CEO John Blakey says the site will help the Rotorua firm market its products and services, allow online payment, promote forestry-related careers and offer 24-hour educational resources.

"Because we are a service business, the internet is pivotal. It provides us the opportunity to streamline our own system and provide a enhanced service in a meaningful way. We will get a large reduction in costs in terms of system efficiency," says Blakey.

The company aims to use the portal to export more of its learning products, including advice on growing Pinus Radiata, plus health and safety courses and environmental guidelines.

The portal's career centre shows a range of job opportunties in the New Zealand timber industry and has a flash program guiding how people can develop their forestry career. Job boards, with job listings, allowing employers and workers to come together.

And since the company is one of the largest training providers, it often has people making enquiries about the courses they have taken. Now, they will be able to find this information themselves and update it online.

Blakey says this is stage one of the portal, which will see extended customer service programmes by July and e-learning by the year end. The company was working with Skills New Zealand to explore the use of IT in training, and had a product developed, but was just looking for a platform.

Blakey adds Terabyte "have been outstanding" in developing the site from scratch in just four months.

Terabyte managing director David Crown says the company received the .Net platform from eSolutions four weeks ago. It wrote the portal in .Net and also redeveloped its content management solution in .Net.

The 14-year-old company is not an official member of Microsoft's DotNet adopters programme, but works with its hosting company eSolutions.

Crown says this is his first .Net project but he expects all Terabyte's website projects to be in .Net because he says its functionality makes it easier to launch enhanced services. The Forestry Industries Training project will also act as a a template to others. Terabyte, continues the former Telecom corporate data manager, also has an application called Smart Touch, which Crown says works off .Net and allows users to profile individual customer preferences.

Too many developers, he says, use the web as a broadcast tool to say 'look at me' rather than seek what customers want.

Instead the Smart Touch front end interface integrating with a back end database can improve CRM-type solutions, such as managing customer loyalty programs.

"There [are] so many possibilities in a .Net environment to launch much more user specific solutions," he says.

Crown claims that his company, which has 30 permament staff, plus contractors, is enjoying "significant" growth by focussing on the web as just been part of a communication solution, complementing paper and CD-Rom, rather than being an all-encompassing "silver bullet" application.

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