Long fuelled by primary industry, Australia's economy has come under fire as a bastion of the old economy. The future success of the nation, this argument runs, is in embracing the new economy. On the other side, it's argued that Australia consistently has been an early adopter of new technology. Certainly, an addiction to mobile phones is testament to our reliance on new communication methods!
This month, eComWorld takes a look at our progress in this area. Focusing on the acceptance of the Internet in the broader community and within the SME sector, we've assembled some statistics in an attempt to get a clear picture of e-commerce in Australia.
Some of the numbers have been quoted before: almost half of Australian adults accessing the Net, and one-third of Australian households owning a PC. Similarly, SMEs appear to be taking steps to incorporate PCs and the Internet into their business.
Where the picture is less clear, however, is whether - once they have a PC and Web connection - Australians are buying goods and services over the Net. Contrasted against evidence that e-banking is being adopted by more and more of us, the numbers for shopping online are less encouraging.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, of the Australian adults online, only 6 per cent bought something over the Internet in the year to May 2000. With so few of us buying things over the Net, it's no wonder many local dot-coms have had difficulties this year.
It's hard to determine why this is the case. Other research indicates that most people who shop online are satisfied with the process, while those who haven't still note security issues as their reason for avoiding the Net.
Others in the industry, like Glenn Miller, managing director at one of the companies featured this month, Janteknology, argue that Australia differs to markets like the US, where e-commerce has appeared to be widely adopted. According to Miller, Americans are more comfortable with buying from catalogues, and many high profile dot-coms are basically catalogue businesses transferred to the Net.
Following from this month's discussion of the state of affairs in Australia, next month eComWorld will examine which skills are needed to participate in the world of e-commerce. In addition to the capabilities required by the new business models, we'll also look at how to build on existing knowledge to be successful online.
And to ensure we can measure the progression towards our goal of 2001 Web sites online by 2001, we invite you to register your business's Web site with us. We'll be providing an online directory - categorised by industry, business and site type - for our readers, consumers and other businesses alike.
To register your site, follow the links at http://ecomworld.com.au.
We hope you enjoy the February edition of eComWorld, out now. If you have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for case studies, please don't hesitate to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.