Web developers’ positive spin

18/05/2004 - 22:00

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WESTERN Australia’s web development industry is reaping the benefits of larger IT spends off the back of growing positive sentiment in the State’s ICT sector.

WESTERN Australia’s web development industry is reaping the benefits of larger IT spends off the back of growing positive sentiment in the State’s ICT sector.

Two years ago, the industry was in the midst of industry consolidation, with the lucrative government contract market drying up and fierce competition for limited corporate work.

In an environment of decline, several players disappeared from the landscape altogether.

Recently, however, there has been renewed optimism as businesses once again turn their focus online solutions in the hope they will deliver tangible business benefits.

Many of Perth’s web development firms are experiencing increased business, with demand particularly evident in the area of business and back end systems.

“This quarter tends to be the busiest, but there is definitely an upturn,” Pretzel Logic managing director Steve Pretzel said.

Pretzel was itself a victim of the tough times in WA’s web space and was bought out of administration with a rescue package proffered by Nedlands-based multimedia designer, PIVoD.

However, Mr Pretzel said part of the current spend in the online space could be attributed to the budgetary cycle.

“At this point in time it is not unusual for companies and government to spend,” he told WA Business News.

“Historically, we’ve always seen more activity at this time of year.”

However, Mr Pretzel also attributed increased web spends on the reversal of trends that has plagued the IT sector, particularly in the web space, in the past two to three years.

“There is also an upturn due to the positive sentiment in the industry,” Mr Pretzel said.

He said that companies were assessing their Internet and intranet requirements and were looking towards content management solutions (CMS) rather than ‘brochure-ware’ sites.

“This has also coincided with the cost of CMS coming down,” Mr Pretzel said.

“Microsoft slashed the price of Microsoft Content Management System and now that is a competitive, affordable product for business. The take-up of ADSL is also driving demand for online services.

“We definitely will see people using online services more when they have a better Internet connection. The more people that have them [broadband connections] available, the more companies will need to meet that demand.”

But Mr Pretzel said the news was good for Pretzel Logic, with increased work prospects across the government and corporate sectors driving slow, but steady, growth for the firm.

“We’ve been hiring steadily over the past six months. We’ve been growing. We are looking to put on more staff.”

Vivid Interactive and Design managing director Damian Cook said Vivid had experienced an upturn in the area of content management systems and permission marketing applications.

“We are on track to grow by 50 per cent again this financial year with March and April being record months for us,” he said.

“The last six months has seen Vivid secure contracts with brands such as Austereo Group, BankWest, Burswood International Resort Casino, Network Ten and the West Coast Eagles.

“Much of our growth is being fuelled by our existing clients.

“We are finding many of the applications we have implemented for clients are achieving great results.

“These results are encouraging companies to continue to invest online.

“For example, we launched the new home building company, In Vogue Living, online less then six months ago.

“Already In Vogue is attracting huge traffic, right up there with the most established brands in the marketplace.”

Internet Business Corporation managing director Richard Keeves echoed these sentiments, indicating that IBC was feeling the effects of the upturn.

“We’ve taken on half a dozen people [staff] in the last few months and we are doing a lot of work in business process automation and online technologies,” Mr Keeves said. “The web space is now more than just web development. People are now seeing way beyond the online brochure they may have thought of in the past.”

Clients today were more educated than at the height of the dot.com boom as to the benefits that technology could deliver, he said.

“Business always has a need to do more with less and so the web is really part of that process of integration within organisations and linking organisations together,” Mr Keeves told WA Business News.

“The government and business community thought that the hype that had been associated with the web had been because the technology [was overhyped], but the technology has been there all the time.

“In the dot.com bubble era, I think there were a lot of emperors walking around with no clothes.”

Mr Keeves said today’s leaner industry was delivering tangible, measurable business benefits through a range of online solutions.

“It’s important that we don’t hype things up, and that we deliver real benefits,” he said.

And the fall in the cost of pre-built systems had provided more cost-effective solutions for business

“We recognised a few years ago that the market was moving towards pre-built systems,” Mr Keeves said.

“There are now far fewer custom-built web sites and more pre-built systems.”

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