Businesses jump aboard the computer express

WA businesses are embracing and applying new Internet technology faster than their colleagues in the eastern states, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Statistics at the end of June 2000 show 75 per cent of all WA businesses used computers, 54 per cent had Internet access and 19 per cent had a website or homepage.

And while doing business over the Internet is a relatively new area of activity, almost half of local companies were classed as ‘Internet business active’.

More than simply using online technology for emails and information searches, these businesses use it for buying and selling, banking, recruitment and company promotion.

Of those WA businesses with Internet access, 42 per cent used it for banking, compared with 36 per cent nationally, and 26 per cent used it for activities such as receiving invoices, ordering supplies and buying goods, compared with 24 per cent nationally.

Office of Information and Communication team leader Martin Rowles said he was not surprised by the figures, as Western Australians had traditionally been quick to pick up on new technology.

“I think a lot of the need to use technology comes from a heightened sense of isolation, being so remote from the rest of the country,” Mr Rowles said.

“Australians are always high adopters of technology but Western Australians are consistently above the national average in the adoption of technology.”

The trends toward technology would simply continue to grow, he said, as businesses began to appreciate the efficiency of computers and realise they could not afford to be left out of the growing world of e-business.

“In 10 years, businesses that don’t use computers or the Internet will be the exception,” Mr Rowles said.

“People will realise they need computers and the Internet to become a part of the new way of business.”

But more than being part of the new business world, Internet technology is saving businesses money.

A separate report commissioned by global technology provider CISCO Systems found that 62 per cent of Australian businesses that are on-line reported cost savings of between 1 per cent and 5 per cent.

According to Ord Computer Consulting director Rob Parker, businesses were at one of three different stages of technology adoption.

“The first is internal systems, which are used, for example, in stock control and keeping track of debtors and creditors. This is becoming almost vital to all kinds of businesses,” Mr Parker said.

“Then there are external systems, which involve email, and this too is becoming increasingly important as it allows people to trade by email, put in product orders and receive information.”

And while full Internet access was not yet essential to all businesses, it too was growing in its importance, as more information became available online.

“More and more information is being put online and the need to access it will become greater,” Mr Parker said.

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