Small manufacturers will be able to compete on even terms with bigger rivals thanks to electronic commerce, the government’s small firms minister claims.
Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce national conference, Barbara Roche said electronic commerce would become a major part of business life within the next five years.
‘It will change the supply chain and mean that small businesses will be able to compete on even terms with large businesses,’ she said.
Psion chairman David Potter said an estimated $10bn (£6bn) of business was already being done on the internet, and this could rise to $1 trillion by 2001.
‘That’s the size of the British economy and an incredible growth rate. Those who believe they can shield their businesses behind national borders are in for a surprise,’ he said.
‘With digital files, it is just as easy to specify a part and order it from Khoushong, Taiwan, as it is from Watford. And it probably gets to our factory in west London faster by jet than around the M25.’
Last month Farnborough-based Computer Sciences Corporation launched a forum to speed up the adoption of electronic commerce in areas such as procurement and supply chains.
The forum, Ontology.org, focuses on a technical evolution of a world wide web architecture called XML, which will allow greater automation in component sourcing. The supply chain in components could be supported by procurement and catalogue websites, built using XML.
‘Before XML, websites supported only human to computer interaction,’ said Kevin Poulter of CSC’s electronic commerce group.
‘Now sites can start talking to each other, opening the possibility for web automation and a greater degree of web sourcing between sites.’