Being an active contributor to the ongoing implementation process of the "European Information Society", the European IT Industry Round Table (EITIRT) organised a workshop in the priority domain of Electronic Commerce in Support of SMEs.
Electronic Commerce will assist in reducing the costs of creating, moving, managing and processing documents, transactions, and information exchange and in opening new market channels.
Improving efficiency and sustaining growth are the two fundamental EITIRT orientations:
developing SMEs awareness is a prerequisite to any form of action. It will then possible to improve internal productivity (internal operations) prior to development of external productivity (increase of business), ...
... which reinforces the idea that such actions have enough genericity to be worked out transversally, with local adaptation, close to SMEs : regional authorities should be the driving forces in these fist phases.
The Workshop analysed how and in which context the European SMEs should be accompanied in their migration to the use of Electronic Commerce and to prepare their awareness to the benefits of those emerging new technologies.
That challenge is of the highest importance for the future of the European SMEs and the Regional and Local Public Sector will play the key role.
The Workshop was held in the context of the G7 initiative for the Information Society, G7 -Global Marketplace for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, in Lyon - France, early March 1997.
Lyon, capital of Region Rhône-Alps, is not only the city of the last G7 Summit, but is emerging in France as a major centre of expertise for on-line technologies.
Therefore, local SMEs, key actors in the Electronic Commerce technologies and services, were members of the workshop's organising consortium and fully integrated from the preparation to the exploitation phases.
Participation was of the potential key actors involved in Electronic Commerce in support of SMEs : administrations, associations such as Chambers of Commerce, industrials (large groups and SMEs), commercial operators, content/technology/service providers, consultants, finance operators, policy makers/being Regional, National or European. Therefore, the workshop did not intend to be an awareness show for the SMEs, but to be a professional event, acting as a catalyst for future operational projects.
The outcomes of the Workshop are recommendations, guidelines and elements to build concrete projects, recorded in a complete report, the White Book, available to any organisation.
Four working panels were organised :
Theme 1 Cross-fertilisation of Experiences (Ongoing Experiences/Best Practice)
Theme 2 Electronic Commerce : an integrated business process
Theme 3 Electronic Commerce : Socio-economic Issues for SMEs
Theme 4 Standard, Legal and Regulatory Issues.
The White Book can be found at http://www.ebusiness.org