New Zealand SMEs shun IT consultants

New Zealand SMEs shun IT consultants

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in New Zealand are not comfortable working with IT consultants on e-commerce, according to initial findings from a research project by Victoria University.

Ongoing research by Sid Huff and Pak Yoong from Victoria University's school of communications and information, on the e-commerce issues and concerns of New Zealand SMEs, has so far revealed that organisations are grappling with the question of whether to develop e-commerce initiatives in-house or use outsiders. Representatives from nine Wellington firms voiced strong concerns regarding the use of IT contractors, says Huff.

One participant likened IT consultants and contractors to a "rogues' gallery", while others said few IT consultants were sufficiently up to speed in e-commerce technologies and that consultants would contract with a customer organisation to learn what they should have known already.

While concerns about skills and knowledge were assessed as important, uppermost in people's minds was the financial impact of e-commerce. This covers cost of implementation, uncertainty associated with that cost, whether or not there is a payback, whether e-commerce will generate revenue and the most appropriate pricing models.

Next after financial impact was concern over new ways of building and managing customers' relationships - how to do this while changing to e-commerce mode, worries about loss of personal contact, the nature of trust in the e-commerce relationship, how to handle the "always-on" aspect of e-commerce, and how to handle customer expectation.

Managing e-commerce arrangement was third on the list. This covers the impact of e-commerce on current business and organisational procedures, the danger of implementing it poorly, an ongoing requirement to maintain and continue to develop e-commerce policies, deciding what to give away and what to sell and whether to adopt a "first mover" or "fast follower" policy.

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