We can close NZ's e-business gap: ITANZ

ITANZ chief executive Jim O'Neill is confident New Zealand can close the gaps on those countries perceived to be e-business leaders.

A survey by consultancy Deloitte Touche Tomatsu says New Zealand businesses continue to lag behind the rest of the world in the adoption of e-business. It says significant barriers that existed last year "remain firmly in place", and little is being done to facilitate or encourage businesses to embrace e-business beyond the use of email and websites.

But O'Neill says e-government initiatives, the formation of the E-commerce Action Team (E-Cat) and the upcoming Electronic Transactions Bill will help New Zealand make up lost ground.

O'Neill is an E-Cat member. "From E-Cat we are seeing a significant ramping-up of e-business, in perception and reality. By the second quarter [of its existence] we will have some very clear plans and targets we can track against," he says.

Already the formation of E-Cat three months ago has led to surveys to show firms best practice in e-commerce and education initiatives are underway. IT projects in Masterton have taken place, plus a Waikato e-commerce summit. E-Cat is working with business advisors not attuned with e-business, so they can help New Zealand's high number of small and medium-sized business switch from "traditional" methods.

O'Neill says the Electronic Transactions Bill will give validity to online trading and boost people's confidence in it, encouraging firms to develop B2B and B2C systems, he says. Government trading online will add a further push.

He says Deloitte's survey is "pretty accurate, but we are not dramatically behind. We will close the gap."

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