Baycorp’s technical services manager, Gavin Murray, is ebullient about the opportunities electronic commerce provides for his company, a major corporate provider of credit services and business information.
“The potential is enormous — we are just beginning our journey along what I am sure will be an exponential curve,” he says. “Baycorp probably has had more ‘e-experience’ and more technical expertise than any other company in New Zealand.”
A statement not lightly made. Baycorp first began using what is now called electronic commerce back in 1988 when it started delivering business and consumer credit reports electronically via Pacnet. The company began delivering business information via the Web in 1997 and has continued to add products and services since then. Key customers include all of the major banks, financial intuitions, retail chains, communications companies and government organisations.
Electronic commerce has yielded unique benefits to this large corporate organisation, which is now able to provide services to small and medium-sized businesses, expanding the range and size of the company’s customer base.
In addition to holding a number of large credit databases, for which it charges access fees, the Web site is a source of business information similar to other magazine-style sites.
The entire site is supported by the in-house team of engineers and programmers. The Baycorp site is run from an IBM AS/400 machine, which also provides the 128-bit encryption services employed to protect information from the company’s business information site. There are redundant systems, fail-over routers and additional lines. A bulk Internet feed is supplied by Telecom’s NetGate.
Being in the ring with the big companies has its drawbacks. It means your competitors are also serious business players with plenty of muscle. Murray believes customised service is the key to survival in this market.
“There are a number of other organisations that provide various pieces of business information via the Net. We are able to stay ahead of these competitors by offering consolidated and customised reports and a plethora of value-added functions,” he says.
When asked to provide advice to other companies contemplating an e-commerce initiative, Murray identifies reliability of service and business smarts as the key areas to concentrate on.
“To be taken seriously in the e-commerce world you need to be 100% stable and 110% reliable. Baycorp’s commitment to this was put to the test during those terrible days of the Auckland power crisis. Despite being within one of the worst hit areas of the city, we were able maintain full operational status throughout the entire crisis. In fact, we were down for less than 30 minutes during this time.
“To stay ahead of the pack in such a fast-paced business you must innovate — talk to your customers and potential customers and ask them to dream their wildest dream, then make it your mission to fulfil that dream. Educate your own people. You can not expect innovation from staff that are not technically current. Stay wide awake, watch what is happening in the world, attend industry conferences, trade shows etc. Keep a close eye on what is happening overseas,” says Murray.