Readiness for a Web Presence

Readiness for a Web Presence

Stephen Burgess (Victoria University, Australia), Carmine Carmine Sellitto (Victoria University, Australia) and Stan Karanasios (Leeds University Business School and AIMTech Research Group, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-224-4.ch003
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Abstract

The new global economy has resulted in the availability of unprecedented opportunities for small business. ICTs in particular have contributed to the underpinning of a revolutionary era of trade and commerce. The Internet in particular, and the ability to use the Web as a virtual shop front (having an online shop without physical premises) has not only allowed new forms of small businesses to emerge, but created an environment where they can compete with their larger counterparts. In what has been commonly become known as the new economy, one of the most fundamental tasks for small businesses is to investigate the usefulness and relevance of ICTs for their business. Furthermore, all small businesses need to assess their capacity to adopt ICTs allowing them to leverage the technology so that they are well positioned to expand their customer base, rationalize business processes and enter new markets. Porter (2001) observed at the height of the dot-com boom that it should be evident for many businesses that it was not whether to deploy ICTs, but how to use them as a competitive part of business strategy. In this chapter we first look at some of the main barriers and drivers of ICT adoption. We then move on to examine the notion of the “readiness” of small businesses to set up a Web presence. We will also examine previous studies that have examined adoption of ICTs in small businesses, for the purpose of identifying those drivers and barriers that can affect small business wishing to go down that path.
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Introduction

The new global economy has resulted in the availability of unprecedented opportunities for small business. ICTs in particular have contributed to the underpinning of a revolutionary era of trade and commerce. The Internet in particular, and the ability to use the Web as a virtual shop front (having an online shop without physical premises) has not only allowed new forms of small businesses to emerge, but created an environment where they can compete with their larger counterparts. In what has been commonly become known as the new economy, one of the most fundamental tasks for small businesses is to investigate the usefulness and relevance of ICTs for their business. Furthermore, all small businesses need to assess their capacity to adopt ICTs allowing them to leverage the technology so that they are well positioned to expand their customer base, rationalize business processes and enter new markets. Porter (2001) observed at the height of the dot-com boom that it should be evident for many businesses that it was not whether to deploy ICTs, but how to use them as a competitive part of business strategy.

In this chapter we first look at some of the main barriers and drivers of ICT adoption. We then move on to examine the notion of the “readiness” of small businesses to set up a Web presence. We will also examine previous studies that have examined adoption of ICTs in small businesses, for the purpose of identifying those drivers and barriers that can affect small business wishing to go down that path.

What is a Web Presence?

Any small business operator who has used the Internet will have some notion of how of much information has been published on the Web. Even a business that has not taken steps towards building a Web presence may in fact have some kind of presence. For example, entering the name of a small business into the popular search engines such as Google™ or Yahoo® will in many cases result in dozens of ‘hits’ (search results) related to that business. These hits may include listings on industry related portals, directories, government associated Websites, blogs (Web logs – sites that capture user generated content through online conversations or postings), references on other business Websites and more. Even where a business has signed up with a third party directory such as the Yellow Pages™, the business may find that they now have some form of defacto Web presence. All these piecemeal listings and components of Web presence contribute to the image of a business. Hence, being aware of the consequences of having a Web presence becomes all the more important for small businesses.

A business’ individual Web presence may be as simple as a home page business contact details. Conversely, the Website may be more intricate and include multiple pages with a catalogue of products, have an e-commerce facility for ordering products, and include interactive elements. Furthermore, the business may have as well as its own Website and a number of ‘extended presences’ that are either directly or indirectly related to the business. This ‘extended presence’ may not be controlled by the business. However, there are strategies that can be employed to promote a business beyond the individual Website presence. This may include affiliating with portals that sell similar products, listings with related interest groups, inclusion in local area Web-based directories of products and services and even active use of online auction facilities or trading Websites such as eBay™. Having a successful Web presence involves more than just having a well designed and engaging Website. The small business Website should not only actively centre and interact with customers through its own Website, but also take into consideration many of the other elements that contribute to the Web presence.

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Small Business Web Presence

Despite the entrepreneurial and flexible nature of many small business operators, they have tended to lag behind their larger counterparts in terms of adopting a Web presence. The reasons are associated with resource limitations that are well documented in the small business literature and tend to be common across different technological adoptions. Overcoming the barriers to a Web presence allows the small business operator to avail themselves of a number of different benefits associated with the adoption of a Website. The extent of these benefits will largely depend on the context in which adoption takes place and what the business is trying to achieve. The next sections will explore the main barriers to, and benefits of, adopting a Web presence.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
M. Gordon Hunter
Preface
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
Chapter 1
Introduction  (pages 1-26)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
Over the last decade there has been a great deal of research into the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in small businesses.... Sample PDF
Introduction
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Chapter 2
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
Whilst writing this book it has become apparent to us that small businesses face numerous challenges and issues when they are considering their Web... Sample PDF
Web Presence Lessons for Small Businesses
$37.50
Chapter 3
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
The new global economy has resulted in the availability of unprecedented opportunities for small business. ICTs in particular have contributed to... Sample PDF
Readiness for a Web Presence
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Chapter 4
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
In the previous chapter we highlighted the importance of planning for an effective Web presence. In fact, the existence of a disciplined planning... Sample PDF
Business Strategy and Planning
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Chapter 5
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
The purpose of this chapter is to discuss how a small business decides upon its Web presence strategy and then determines what features will make up... Sample PDF
Web Presence Strategy and Content
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Chapter 6
Web Presence Hosting  (pages 141-167)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
In earlier chapters we discussed the need to link Web presence strategy with anticipated small business direction and motivations - where this... Sample PDF
Web Presence Hosting
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Chapter 7
Website Design  (pages 168-196)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
This is the most technical of the chapters in this book. It is centred on Website design and is the only chapter in the book where we exclusively... Sample PDF
Website Design
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Chapter 8
Web Presence Promotion  (pages 197-222)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
There are literally millions of businesses with a Web presence on the Web and more and more being added every day, all competing to attract... Sample PDF
Web Presence Promotion
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Chapter 9
Web Presence Governance  (pages 223-252)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
The initial idea behind this chapter was to expand on the issue of security, predominantly in relation to ensuring that a small business operator... Sample PDF
Web Presence Governance
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Chapter 10
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
This chapter examines the notion of how the success of a small business Web presence can be assessed. In doing so, there is initially a discussion... Sample PDF
Evaluating Web Presence Success
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Chapter 11
A Look at the Future  (pages 275-301)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
This chapter serves to raise an awareness of some of the more cutting edge Internet innovations and applications that may become viable and useful... Sample PDF
A Look at the Future
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Chapter 12
What Led Us Here?  (pages 302-321)
Stephen Burgess, Carmine Carmine Sellitto, Stan Karanasios
This Appendix provides a brief overview of our PhDs - all of which involved research into small business adoption and use of ICT and Internet... Sample PDF
What Led Us Here?
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About the Authors