06 April 2000 | Elizabeth Bellamy
Planned tax rebates could accelerate the rate of e-commerce adoption among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), writes Elizabeth Bellamy.
In a bid to encourage one million small firms to go online, the chancellor of the exchequer, Gordon Brown, announced rebates for SMEs investing in e-commerce and buying new IT over the next three years in his budget speech last month. The rebates would allow firms to write off purchase costs, which are likely to cover hardware and software, as well as Internet-enabled mobile phones.
Damon Jones, e-business director at IT consultancy Origin, backed the move. "Lower entry barriers will create a positive environment for SMEs," he said. They were generally six months behind other firms in implementing e-commerce, he added, but their size meant that they could introduce the systems faster and make up the gap.
SMEs had "big problems" with IT, said Brian Jeffreys, senior lecturer in IT and supply chain management at the University of Coventry Business School. "Their take-up of this technology is relatively low - it's often a question of time and money."
But he added it would take more than the rebates to increase adoption rates. "It will also depend on how keen businesses are and how much they can see what e-commerce offers."