Although e-Commerce and e-Business are clearly recognised as fundamental drivers in the development of both traditional and more innovative European SMEs, many problems and access barriers still exist which slow down their full deployment in the international business context. By its very nature, e-Business is trans-national and encourages cross-border ordering and delivery of goods and services. It directly stimulates competition in the Single Market. The Single Market, in turn, offers electronic commerce the prospect of a critical mass of businesses and customers across national borders.
But the majority of SMEs both in Eastern and Western Europe are yet unprepared to take full advantage of this opportunity, due to a range of issues addressing technological, organisational and cultural aspects.
In order to provide a systematic and effective contribution to the solution of these problems, and therefore to ensure that European enterprises, particularly SMEs, will not lag behind in the rapid take-off of electronic commerce, it is necessary, on one hand, to stimulate a range of awareness creation activities aimed at increasing the use of electronic commerce, and on the other hand, to provide tools, methodologies and benchmarking information allowing the companies to approach the important phase of going to the Internet in a structured and safe way.
The main focus of the BENE-BUS project is therefore to make SMEs aware of the benefits and competitive advantages resulting from the implementation of electronic commerce and to encourage the creation of joint venture within Western and Eastern European countries. Regarding the IT communication facilities, BENE-BUS will contribute to the development of the internal market and the creation of new job profiles within SMEs.
BENE-BUS project is an accompanying measure focusing on the E-Business and New Methods of Work in the context of international co-operation involving Eastern European Members and New Independent.
The main objectives of the BENE-BUS project are:
- To support and enhance the competitiveness of European small and medium enterprises (both in EU countries and Central and Eastern European Countries) through the provision of tools, methodologies and benchmarking information which will support and facilitate their access and fruition of the E-Business marketplace;
- To increase the level of co-operation among Western and Eastern European countries enterprises, trade associations, public administration, educational and training centres, legal assistants, financial and investments institutions, in order to increase the level of implementation of a Single European Market;
- To deliver and promote permanent awareness dissemination actions aimed at supporting and fostering the competitiveness of European SMEs through the use, customisation and integration of e-platform solutions enabling a new way of managing their business processes;
- To assist SMEs in implementing best practice solutions (in the field of e-applications) deriving from the results of previous Information Society R&D projects;
- To sustain Eastern and Western European SMEs in partaking in EU funding programmes, thus increasing the level of international relations via joint European R&D Information Society projects.
DESCRIPTION OF WORK
In order to achieve its objectives, the BENE-BUS consortium will deploy the following strategy:
- Taking into consideration on one hand that that the market currently offers a wide range of e-commerce platforms for the implementation of virtual shops and on the other that the actual needs and characteristics of individual SMEs (i.e. the users of the platforms) vary much across industrial sectors and European regions, the project will produce a methodology to formalise the needs of each individual SME in terms of e-commerce implementation and will perform a benchmarking exercise in order to qualify the different platforms offered on the market; thus, on the basis of the SME profile and of the outcome of the benchmarking exercise, it will be possible to make a rational choice of the best solution matching the specific needs of a given SME;
- With the aim of promoting the adoption of suitable e-solutions a well designed awareness and dissemination campaign will help European companies and organisations to draw maximum benefits from the results of successful EU-funded R&D projects in the field of Information Society and, more specifically of Electronic Commerce. Priority will be given to Best Practice cases, which are deemed to be closer to the practical needs of European SMEs.
In order to allow the fruition of the BENE-BUS results by its target users (mainly, European SMEs) a set of services will be designed; they will be accessible through the WEB and will be further provided by the trans-national consortium. These can be summarised as follows:
- essential direct support services to enable SMEs to implement innovative business processes based on e-business solutions implementation;
- a service supplier database of existing organisational/technical resources for supporting e-business processes of SMEs will be set up;
- an alliances network enabling SMEs to operationally implement the e-platform solutions, will be created;
- a permanent web forum will allow SM Es to ask for up to date information on the funding opportunities concerning the implementation of e-business solutions and it will enable SMEs in evaluating the existing e-business platform that best fits their requirement.
Funding SchemeACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures