Study highlights slow e-biz uptake

A study of the adoption and implementation of e-business in New Zealand shows that barely a fifth of local corporate websites are capable of secure transactions and that just one out of seven sites was receiving payments online as of April 2001.

A study of the adoption and implementation of e-business in New Zealand shows that barely a fifth of local corporate websites are capable of secure transactions and that just one out of seven sites was receiving payments online as of April 2001.

New Zealand companies also appear to be unsure about how to develop a successful e-commerce operation, with few firms looking to established e-commerce firms for advice.

The cloud has, however, something of a silver lining, with companies with websites predicting 15% growth in their online activities by next year.

The study, which was produced by the Department of Strategic Management and Leadership at the University of Waikato, draws its conclusions from a survey of 1229 businesses across all New Zealand industries.

Is New Zealand industry as a whole properly utilising the internet for e-business? “No, not at this point,” says one of the authors of the report, associate professor of strategic management Delwyn Clark. “They are getting involved, in that many companies are putting up an informational website, but on its own that’s really not going to do anything to their business processes if it isn’t linked in properly,” she says.

The report says that only 21% of the organisations have websites capable of taking orders, and that 8% can handle payments online. “These results indicate that there is considerable scope for New Zealand organisations to increase their e-business activities,” the report says.

Professor Clark draws a distinction between companies already with websites, and those without. “The organisations with websites tend to report low customer use as a problem, while the companies who haven’t taken that jump were worried about the financial returns they would get from it.”

Companies with websites reported frustration at high costs of technology and consumer reluctance, while companies currently without a web presence felt that other key players, including suppliers and partners, were themselves not ready for e-business.

Advice and assistance about e-commerce came from diverse sources for the companies surveyed. The University of Waikato’s study shows that while few companies that had sought information by approaching public sector organisations and funds, such as Technology NZ or BIZ Info, around 40% report asking their customers for advice. Leading the pack of e-commerce advice-dispensers were web page developers, with 70.8% of businesses surveyed seeking advice at their collective door. Just 24.3% of companies saw fit to approach existing e-commerce firms.

Professor Clark says her department is doing a further study of small to medium-sized enterprises, analysing e-commerce barriers they face.

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