The failure of the channel to provide adequate solutions is stifling the growth of the electronic commerce market in Australia, according to IDC.
"At this stage, very few channel organisations have well-defined e-commerce offerings," Tim Sheedy, IDC's mar- ket analyst for Internet and networking, told ARN. "Most organisations in the channel are used to shipping PCs and things like network integration, but that is where their businesses stop. "Most of the Web development in larger companies is happening in-house, while a lot of smaller companies who don't have those in-house skills are not doing anything."
According to a recent survey of IS managers conducted by IDC - featured in a new report entitled The Australian e-commerce market: analysis and opportunities - 48 per cent of Australian businesses have a Web presence. But of those, only 10 per cent, or 5600 companies, offer sales transaction capabilities.
Sheedy is laying a good share of the blame for that at the feet of the channel.
"At this stage, the primary organisation responsible for e-commerce sites is the corporate IS department, followed by ISPs and carriers, then marketing departments," Sheedy said. "Very few companies are looking to consultants or system integrators for e-commerce solutions and that's quite a criticism of the Andersens and EDSs of the world."
"There are a few companies, such as Com Tech, that are beginning to offer real Internet-type solutions, but even theirs aren't that developed at this stage."
The IDC report claims smaller companies are actually more likely to offer e-commerce functionality than their larger counterparts, providing opportunities for the channel to offer services like permanent Internet connections and application integrations.
Sheedy argues it is necessary for the channel to establish partnerships with providers, like ISPs, outside their regular solutions base in order to offer the solutions their customers need.
Beyond traditional vendors
And they may also have to look beyond the traditional vendors for the right products.
"Most of the solutions [offered by larger vendors] are hype. A lot of the vendors with real e-commerce solutions are smaller players that don't have great distribution strategies because they don't have the names to deserve bigger partners," Sheedy said.
If the Australian channel does get its act together, it will share in a lucrative market according to the IDC report.
The global e-commerce market is expected to reach $US425.7 billion by 2002, up from $US32.4 billion this year. Of that, Australia's revenues will skyrocket to $US16.4 billion by 2002.