E commerce for SMEs

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The project for “developing e-commerce know-how” in Northern Ostrobothnia (Finland)was aimed at promoting e-business skills, which would help to create new opportunities for SMEs in the Oulu South area.

In the Oulu South area the biggest obstacle to making good use of information networks for e-commerce has been the lack of special skills and education. The “developing e-commerce know-how” project was one of five Pinnacle Projects (the others being Origo for New Media, Regional Portal for e-commerce, Media Marketplace, and Virtual High School) which were aimed at addressing this problem through enhancing the technological skills profile in the Oulu South area.

The objectives of the project were: to create an e-commerce learning centre, to tailor the contents of e-commerce education to meet the requirements of businesses, and to establish a network of “e-biz” trainers. The ultimate objective was to enhance the competitiveness of regional enterprises in the domestic and international markets and to create new opportunities for professional training in the field of e-business.

The project was implemented by the Central Ostrobothnia Polytechnic between the 1st of September 2000 and the 11th of November 2002. It consisted of two parts:

1. The setting up of a web-trade learning centre: web-trade teamwork facilities were installed in the institution. The equipment included nineteen microcomputers with peripherals, a video conferencing system for e-learning, web cameras and relevant software programmes, including IBM Websphere Netcommerce Suite and some publishing software.

2. Web-trade training for e-commerce entrepreneurs and workers: learning material and a portal (http://haapajarvi.cop.fi/centria/verkkokauppa) were developed and these were used to train e-commerce experts using a specialised training module. A survey of the availability and usability of electronic marketplaces and software programmes among SMEs in the area was also carried out.

The results of the projects included:

  • The establishment of an e-commerce learning centre in the Oulu South area
  • An increase in web-trade knowledge and skills in the area. Fifty seven people from the sub-regions of Nivala-Haapajarvi and Siikalatva participated in web-trade training
  • An immediate application of new e-commerce skills in local SMEs
  • The specialised module helped unemployed participants to find jobs in the area of communications technology
  • Web-trade teaching became an integral part of the Central Ostrobothnia Polytechnic’s (COP) business studies curriculum

This project is a good example of how new innovative activities can be created by combining information technology, professional education and innovation oriented businesses.

Technical information

Project: Developing e-commerce know-how, Programme: Northern Finland Objective 1 Programme (Northern Ostrobothnia) Total cost EUR 253 600 EU contribution EUR 115 600 Contact Central Ostrobothnia Polytechnic Development Manager Laine, Hilkka Haapalankatu 5 FIN-85800, Haapajarvi Suomi/Finland Tel.: +358 8 769 9234 Fax: +358 8 769 3259 E-Mail: hilkka.laine@cop.fi