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Whitehall at last seems to appreciate that the only way the UK can regain a lead in e-business is through step change, not catch-up.
This autumn, expect to see activity and investment from politicians aimed at stimulating UK business to come up with lateral ways of transforming themselves. Adoption of e-technologies will take a backseat. The focus will be on using the e-infrastructure to pioneer new business and strategic practices.
There will also be less emphasis on promoting e-commerce to small businesses. Larger user firms are no longer to be excluded. Of prime importance is to identify those with e-vision and those without it.
That is because smaller companies are now perceived as using e-mail and Web sites and are getting the message about e-commerce. The challenge is the next two stages up the evolutionary e-adoption ladder: e-business with the e-integrated supply chain and the transformation of firms through information and interworking.
Government effort for the next few years will promote this transformation. These are hazy areas, but expect activity to start identifying and promoting best practice in three core areas:
- Business via supply chains and e-procurement
- Creativity - such as the e-design and development work in B2B by Warwick Manufacturing Centre
- People through knowledge management, people in the e-environment and communicating with suppliers, customers and partners.
This is spot-on thinking. The test will be if this will result in a push forward for UK plc rather than a new sterile bout of political pilot project it is.