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18 September 2001

IST Programme Addresses the E-business Needs and Problems of SMEs

A survey conducted in 2000 by BT Small & Medium Enterprises found that the main obstacles for SMEs in adopting e-business were skills shortage and lack of time. Telephone interviews with 500 SMEs showed that almost half of those without websites cited the lack of skills and time as the main reasons they had yet to establish one. The interviews followed a separate BT e-business study that showed 25% of SMEs reported lack of internal IT knowledge within their firms as a barrier to on-line trading. Industry-wide, more than three quarters of SMEs (77%) agreed there was a shortage of relevant e-business expertise among small firms in the UK. Despite the skills shortage, SMEs are reluctant to outsource the IT function: 64% said they would prefer to develop their own expertise in-house.

The vast majority of businesses in Europe fall within the category of small to medium size enterprises. With such a large number of SMEs it is not surprising therefore that the European Commission's IST Programme is devoting a lot of effort towards addressing the needs and problems of SME's.

The e-2001 conference, which is to be held in Venice, October 17-19, provides a good indication of the wide range of work that is being supported by the IST Programme's Key Action II, New Methods of Work and Electronic Commerce. Topics being discussed at the conference include critical success factors for SMEs, dispute resolution for SMEs using electronic arbitration, the management of knowledge based adaptive SMEs, and much more.

Back in 2000 it was predicted that by the year 2005, 70 per cent of the market for Internet services would consist of SMEs. It was also predicted that 70 per cent of the growth in data revenues would come from SMEs. For such predictions to have any chance of coming true, clearly the problems and needs of SMEs need to be addressed. e-2001 shows that Key Action II of the IST Programme is working hard to ensure that the European Commission plays its part in ensuring the success of SMEs in the world of e-business.

e-2001 is the conference for RTD projects in Key Action II of the IST Programme, who are also the primary sponsors of e-2001. Major sponsors are Telecom Italia, Canon and InfoCamere.

Ends

Notes to Editors

The following are a selection of papers relevant to SMEs that are being presented at the e-2001 conference:

HELCOM project: an integrated eCommerce system for SMEs in Greece
Penelope Markellou, University of Patras, Greece
ConnectKey.com: The use of Open Source technologies to provide cost effective services for SME eBusiness
Micheal O'Foghlu, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland
E-Arbitration: Alternative Dispute Resolving for SMEs
Jacques Gouimenou, TIGA Technologies, France
Towards an European E-Commence Ambient in the Craft Sector
Anna Assimakopoulos, Egnatia Epirus Foundation, Greece
BENE-BUS: BENchmarking of E-BUSiness solutions for Western and Eastern European SMEs
Roberto Zuffada, European Trend Association, Italy
e-flora: e-commerce and the agricultural SMEs
Christina Tsagari, Exodus, Greece
Methodology for the Implementation of e-Business solutions in SME's
Luis Carneiro, INESC Porto, Portugal
B4U - Business for you -The virtual community for the SMEs development and consolidation.
Tiziana dell'Orto, Sviluppo Italia, Italy
Critical Success Factors for eBusiness for SMEs
Sylvie Feindt, SFC, Germany
Sophisticated Co-operation in Dynamic SME Networks based on Co-operative Planning and Control
Michael Matthiesen, Universität Stuttgart, Germany
The Integration of Teleworking and Telelearning into SMEs
Anette Knierriem-Jasnoch, IKTT, Germany
An ICT Platform For Supporting Virtual Enterprises of SMEs
Giordana Bonini, Democenter, Italy
SMEs and the implementation of information systems: how to succeed
Iris Karvonen; VTT Automation, Finland
SYMPHONY : On the management of knowledge based adaptive SMEs
Jeroen Kemp, Fraunhofer IAO, Germany

For further information contact Paul Kidd. (Email: ). Web: http://www.cheshirehenbury.com/ebew