Trade NZ pushes ahead with $13m project

Trade New Zealand has wrapped its updated website around a new content management system and is hooking it up to a virtual private network through which 350 staff at its 44 offices will be able to directly contribute material.

Trade New Zealand has wrapped its updated website around a new content management system and is hooking it up to a virtual private network through which 350 staff at its 44 offices will be able to directly contribute material.

The system, the first fruit of a $13 million e-commerce project, is being piloted through a scheme in which 35 food and beverage exporters will be linked with 35 Australian buyers. The organisation’s Vignette content management system will allow staff overseas to contribute to Trade NZ’s website directly, getting the green light for posting online through a system of editing and validation. Contributors outside Trade NZ may even be given access to the system by the end of the year, says web manager Haydn Thomsen.

The new site is divided into exporter, importer, investor and student sections, which offer advice, case studies and subscription services. In future the site is intended to allow personalisation services for exporters, down to sub-sector and product levels.

Trade NZ is the first government agency to opt for Vignette, a soup-to-nuts content management offering, and the first local site to integrate it with Microsoft active server pages (ASP) rather than Java server pages (JSP) or the TCL scripting language, alternative methods for controlling the content and appearance of web pages. It is also an early user of WebEdit PRO, a module in version 6.5 of Vignette’s software that provides a word processor-like interface and allows instant transformation of text into HTML. Trade NZ also paid extra for Vignette’s Relationship Management Server web traffic analysis tool.

The AT&T frame relay-based VPN, which replaces dial-up links, will also allow the 39 offices overseas to improve their links to Trade NZ’s other IT systems. These include the JD Edwards One World financial management system, The Silent One document management system, a SalesLogix CRM system and the organisation’s intranet.

The e-commerce project, which was granted funding in the 2000 budget, was begun in earnest in November. It involves a consortium of KPMG, TelstraSaturn, Cisco and Microsoft.

Thomsen says the revamped site will help Trade NZ meet its unchanged goals: increasing foreign exchange and revenue; and getting more exporters linked into its service.

He says programmes have been started to help staff through the changes in approach and teach them “e-business fundamentals”.

Vignette sales executive David Venables says the Trade NZ site is the company’s first successful bid for a project with KPMG. Vignette is talking to several other government agencies, he says.

A rival private scheme to hook up exporters and buyers is hosted by the New Zealand Trade Centre.

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