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E-commerce solutions to be judged on savings

THE head of Pretzel Logic believes government agencies can save money and deliver improved customer service by embracing e-commerce solutions.

Speaking at the Government Business Seminar last week, Pretzel Logic managing director Steve Pretzel told an audience of government department e-business managers that online solutions could be best implemented where services were expensive to provide and customer frustration was the greatest.

“It’s easy to make assumptions about what will and won’t work online, but there’s a simple test to determine whether an online project will succeed: does it genuinely save the customer time and/or money?” Mr Pretzel said.

“Once the novelty value has worn off it all comes down to time and motion.

“If I can do something faster or easier over the phone than I can online, then I will probably continue to use the phone.”

He said that, to create genuine demand for online government services, also known as Electronic Service Delivery, departments must create services the customer prefers.

Mr Pretzel gave the example of online banking, which has become one of the most popular online business-to-consumer applications in recent years.

There also was a case to be made for making small improvements to existing processes, rather than embarking on large-scale projects, he said.

“In many cases, doing 10 things 5 per cent better is a lot more efficient than trying to do one thing 50 per cent better.” Mr Pretzel said.

Big projects could be slow to get off the ground, he said.

Also addressing the seminar was Pretzel Logic director of Business Development Simon Walsh, who recently returned from a similar seminar in the UK.

Mr Walsh said WA Government departments were between two and three years ahead of their UK counterparts in developing e-commerce solutions, despite the UK’s funding advantage.

“The UK Online program is centrally funded from HM Treasury and agencies apply for funding on the basis of overall benefit to the country from the online initiative proposed,” he said.

“By contrast, Western Australian agencies must fund their Electronic Service Delivery initiatives from within their own operating budgets.

“This tends to restrict the projects they can undertake to those with short-term cost reduction oppor-tunities.”

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