Only days after the good Samaritan law was introduced to protect companies from business disruptions and the legal consequences of Y2K, criticism has come from network integrator Active Australia. It is claiming government and industry bodies are unnecessarily complicating global issues small businesses are facing, by either ignoring the sector entirely or coding solutions too technically.
According to Active Australia's technical manager, Tim Watson, SMEs are "not treated with the same respect that large businesses are. They are just given a standard package with no thought put into it."
Watson asserts that solutions such as a Web directory, contrived by the Government or vendors is beyond the scope of most small businesses. "Unfortunately some of the sites end up too technical. There is nothing like a one page checklist and some of the best sites are overseas."
Additionally, Watson claims the suggestions that have been put forward for small businesses to address issues such as Y2K are generally inappropriate because "SMEs are not likely to have technical problems, that's more likely to be the realm of big companies. What small businesses need is a contingency plan and a common sense approach. For example, resellers could stock more goods over the next couple of months."
This is in direct opposition to comments from the Government, in particular the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, stating that SMEs are the organisations most vulnerable to the Y2K threat due to their inaction and thus are the weak links in the supply chain.
Active Australia is attempting to address the negative opinion that the IT industry has of small businesses and in the process provide legitimate resources and solutions to the sector.
To achieve this in the current climate of global dilemmas Active Australia will address what Watson sees as a discrepancy between the business services that big vendors offer small clients and the computer orientation that resellers adopt.
"You need to invest time in establishing their (small business's) needs and resellers can identify with the challenges they face. However, a business background is needed. Small companies can only offer computer skills, big business can offer only business skills," claims Watson.