New scheme sets standards for e-strategy advisers

An accreditation scheme has been launched to help the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses get the right help with their e-business strategy.

An accreditation scheme has been launched to help the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses get the right help with their e-business strategy.

The Technology Means Business initiative provides an industry standard for advice on information and communication technology (ICT) issues.

The initiative was developed by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Institute of Management, which runs the scheme, and four technology providers — BT, Microsoft, Compaq and Intel.It was established as part of the government’s UK Online for Business initiative after feedback from small and medium-sized companies revealed many were unsure where to find sufficiently expert and impartial advice on web-related issues.

To gain accreditation, advisers have to demonstrate their understanding of ICT technology and its specific application to smaller companies. Their work is monitored and assessed, and they are encouraged to adopt best-practice standards set by the Technology Means Business management team. Those eligible for accreditation include IT specialists, hardware and software resellers, advisors and general business consultants.

The Institute of Management spent six months before the launch registering more than 600 advisers for the scheme and implementing a network of 14 regional centres to handle the accreditation process. These centres will also help companies find accredited advisers.To coincide with the launch the Institute of Management released new research suggesting smaller companies are eager to embrace e-business.

Almost 90% of companies surveyed that do not already have an e-business strategy want to implement one. More than a third want to do so within the next year. However, 60% of companies said lack of technological understanding was the biggest barrier in preventing their IT infrastructure reaching its full potential.