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Survey Points To Huge Scope For SME's Going Online

A survey of mainly small enterprises highlights the urgency Government should place on getting itself online to boost e-business amongst small and medium size enterprises, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

The survey of 160 manufacturers, 83 per cent employing less than 50 staff, found by far the most common use for computer technology is to maintain financial and accounting records.

"The scope for more e-business uptake amongst SME's is enormous," said EMA executive Michael Burgess.

"Many small businesses are still not using the technology for much more than keeping their accounts in order.

"Email and web browsing are the main e-business internet tools adopted by SME manufacturers with 39 per cent making use of them.

"Whereas computer use for financial management and accounting is virtually universal, just 61 per cent have adopted computer systems for their production systems and other productivity boosting applications

"We think if Government ensured IRD, Statistics NZ, ACC and its other agencies made sure all mandatory returns could be filed on line, not only would the compliance costs for SME's plummet, but they would have a strong incentive to boost their uptake of e-business.

"The main concerns with e-business generally are to protect against viruses (14 per cent), and ensuring adequate security (13 per cent).

"Though SME's are well aware of systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Applications Service Providers (ASP's), the uptake of them is low.

"Just 14 per cent of the survey's respondents are using a CRM system and seven per cent are planning to use an ASP.

"Nine per cent reported inadequate knowledge of the technology as a constraint to its uptake, with eight per cent citing a lack of technically qualified staff. Eight per cent also said they had problems measuring their return on investment in e-business.

"The survey carried out last October also found a complete turnaround in manufacturers' practices with 90 per cent now 'making to order' rather than the practice in years past of 'making to stock'.

"Another point of interest is that manufacturers are maintaining their customer focus - 69 per cent consider improving the service to their present customers very important with 57 per cent rating supplier and customer partnerships similarly."


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