eCommerce

eCommerce

Conclusion: The securing of online banking through one time passwords delivered via SMS: provides two factors of authentication, is cheaper to deploy than tokens, increases the customers’ sense of security, and introduces online banking customers to the idea of secure banking on their mobile phones.

However, introducing a widely adopted, variable-cost, service like one time password via SMS is not sustainable because it is inevitable that the cost of the SMS service will exceed the cost of online fraud, which is already at very low levels1. Until mobile banking and EMV smartcards become more commonplace, banks should choose the better strategy of using SMS authentication, as it supports the product roadmap for online and mobile banking.

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Conclusion: As many mid to large organisations are re-evaluating their online presence, designed pre-2001, web content management (WCM) has emerged as a growing concern. To address the concern, IT managers must evaluate three critical non-technical issues before looking at WCM solutions or risk substantial overspend on solutions that may hinder organisational online efficiency and agility.

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For some time now we have been, with varying degrees of success, implementing systems providing electronic document and records management capability; to address the large volumes of paper on construction projects and to better manage the complexities of engineering drawings. Due to the distributed project nature of our business and the power invested in project managers to make their own decisions, we have never managed to implement a single company wide solution, and by doing so have not realised the benefits that this standardisation provides. We find ourselves in the position where we are using several different ASP model solutions, one of which is of course inCite, and a number of proprietry third party products. This makes it considerably more difficult to introduce one standard system for managing project documentation across the business, while still taking into account the different requirements of the various delivery models i.e. straight design and construct, joint venture, alliance, PPP etc.

To satisfy an important part of the company’s strategic direction, we have been undertaking a review and formalisation of the organisation’s Management Systems. In this case Management Systems are defined as those processes which are integral to the way that the company does business. In the past these have been applicable to construction projects only, but the decision has now been taken to define, implement and maintain formalised business processes for all parts of the organisation. A large part of this review involves the selection of the optimum way of storing these processes and their associated business procedures, and publishing them. While these processes may or may not be enabled through an IT application, they will be maintained and accessed through an electronic repository. The million dollar question is which electronic repository.

Through this project the business has invested a significant effort in designing a revised format for these processes, and most of the content for construction projects has been put together in the new format. The business has now engaged, with IT, to go to the market to select a product to deliver the new Management System. Following a robust and detailed evaluation procedure involving a project team, including the major business stake holders, a decision was taken on the most appropriate product. A pilot is currently being undertaken to prove the suitability of this product with an initial implementation of the Management Systems planned for December 2006.

At this late stage of the project some doubt has been expressed about the value of the solution that has been chosen. While there is little doubt about the capability of the product to deliver the required solution, concern has been expressed in some quarters about the total cost of ownership for what is considered to be a point solution only. The chosen solution is a vendor driven product, with a significant cost for licences and on-going support. There is a feeling that a satisfactory solution could be provided through a commercial open source product, or through products for which we are already licenced because of other contracts with specific suppliers.

Supporters of the product claim, with some justification, that it has the capability of providing total enterprise content management to the business and can therefore deliver the value that is being questioned. Additionally, it can go a long way to satisfying the perceived need to have only one system in the business to manage all processes and associated documentation. The scope of this project however did not include other business requirements outside the Management Systems.

We have received well intentioned advice on this matter, both solicited and unsolicited, from a number of third parties. It has become apparent that there is a diversity of views on this subject which is of no use to us at all. The main issues seem to be:

  • what actually is an enterprise content management system?

  • having established what it is, do we need one?

  • having established that, do need one over arching enterprise content management system, or do we need a number of point solutions addressing business requirements as they arise?

  • if we do need one overarching enterprise content management system, what is the total cost of ownership – do we go for a vendor driven solution, open source solution or utilise one of the “freebies” that we are entitled to (assuming their suitability)?

  • where does an enterprise content management system sit in our IT architecture? Is it an infrastructure application, a platform, a business application, or a bit of all three?

There are some interesting schools of thought out there ranging through:

  • Enterprise Content Management addresses document management, records management, web content including intranet, extranet and internet and is underpinned by a work flow engine.

  • There is a significant immaturity in this market with little immediate sign of this improving. We should not be making a decision on one over arching solution until the market is more mature and there are indications that the major players are here to stay. We should be leveraging off our existing products in the meantime.

  • We should be considering commercial open source to reduce total cost of ownership. Is commercial open source really cheaper or is it just another model with much the same cost?

  • Enterprise Content Management is an infrastructure application to be built upon much like a relational data base.

  • Enterprise Content Management systems should be selected to suit the particular business need that is being addressed and is not necessarily one over arching system for the business.

  • Enterprise Content Management is a misleading name for managing unstructured information electronically.

  • Given our commitment to inCite and its current inability to deliver all of our requirements our chosen solution will always be a hybrid of point solutions

To help resolve these issues we have hurriedly put in place another project, running in parallel to the pilot; to which I referred above, to further analyse commercial open source offerings and selected other vendor supplied systems that could be considered to offer savings in total cost of ownership. We have a commitment to deliver the Management Systems within a certain time frame and we will honour that commitment. It may be, however, that we deliver them through a different product than that which is being piloted. The time frame for this decision is very tight.

Optus inCITE, the Construction Industry Trading Exchange, has now been operating for twenty eight months and since my last update, in November of last year, there has been a significant increase in its adoption through the industry. In fact the increase in its use has been so significant that it has raised issues with the capability of the technology platform to handle the current and anticipated volumes. These issues are being addressed as a matter of urgency.

At this time there are:

  • 501 registered companies; and

  • 6,159 registered users

    • 5,708 registered for document management

    • 638 registered for tender management

    • 18 registered for purchasing

  • 1,500 concurrent users

  • 300,000 “clicks” per day

Volumes such as these were not originally anticipated until well after the third year of operation and they have tested the current technology platform to the extent that there has been inadequate performance when there has been heavy usage.

The Document Management System on the Exchange is being heavily utilised by large numbers of users on multi million dollar infrastructure projects such as the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney, the Mitcham/Frankston Motorway in Melbourne (Eastlink) and the North Western Busway in Sydney. There are numerous other large infrastructure projects in the pipeline such as the North South Brisbane Tunnel, the Gateway Bridge Duplication in Brisbane, the Fast Rail to Sydney’s Western Suburbs, the Melbourne Convention Centre, the new Headquarters for the Department of Defence in Canberra and the Sydney Desalination Plant, all prospective inCITE users. The construction industry in Australia is forecast to continue growing over the next five to six years, and maybe beyond, and the Tender Management and Procurement Systems on the Exchange have only been exercised to a limited amount to date.

The RTA are currently conducting a trial of the Tender Management System inviting selected contractors to submit tenders for a new project through inCITE. The RTA is one of the construction industry’s largest clients in New South Wales so if this trial is successful, and they adopt inCITE as a standard, the number of users on the Exchange will increase significantly.

To date the Procurement System has not had heavy usage with Optus still marketing to large suppliers to get them to lodge their catalogues on the Exchange. Interfaces with the more popular Construction Industry accounting systems have been completed which will enable end to end electronic processing of the whole procurement transaction. It is expected that the Procurement System will begin to be widely used as more suppliers get on board.

While this adds up to more and more users it is interesting to note that the number of Document Management users in Australia is already more than in Europe, where the software has been commercially available for a considerably greater length of time. Added to this Australian companies are exploiting the software to a greater extent than their European counterparts. A number of large projects have not implemented Microsoft Exchange preferring to utilise the generic email system built into the Document Management System. While the generic email system is definitely clumsier to use it ensures that all project related emails are captured in a single repository. This is considered to be of such value that issues with the user interface are thought to be relatively unimportant. It should be added that on one of these projects inCITE, and how it is used on the project, has been mandated by the project director. Everyone on the project has been instructed to use it.

There are also ten prospects who are eager to use the Exchange but being aware of the instability issues are waiting on the sidelines for the problems to be resolved before signing up.

The Exchange therefore, is proving to be a success but, ironically, that success has lead to the recognition that the infrastructure, as it currently exists, struggles with existing volumes and is incapable of handling prospective volumes. There is a plan to resolve these performance issues by reviewing the hardware platform, reviewing the data base engine, reviewing the technical architecture of the Document Management System, implementing some immediate enhancements that have been identified and revising the training approach to instruct users on how to build efficient searches which do not require heavy system resources.

In summary the initial aims of the group of construction companies who originally came up with the concept for the Exchange, that benefits would accrue to the construction industry through the utilisation of standard systems, using the Internet for selected parts of project management on construction projects, are beginning to be realised. The take up has greatly exceeded forecasts and there is steady month on month growth. Once the technology platform has been stabilised the on going success of the Exchange is virtually assured.

Conclusion: According to Roy Morgan Research, nearly six million people use a search engine each month and the competition to serve them is becoming more intense. With the July launch of its search engine, Sensis, the advertising arm of Telstra, is marketing its services more aggressively. Over the last few years it has defined a niche for itself in the SME sector of Australian business and aims to capitalise on that relationship for the future.

Despite Google's apparent pre-eminence and Overture's strong ties with major online publishers, Sensis purports to offer a range of products that the two do not have. Competition will be greater now as Overture is directly pitching at the SME sector but with its variety of online properties, Sensis claims to have a suite of services that are appropriate to any type of organisation.

Organisations will benefit from the additional competition in the search and services market and ought to examine the product portfolios of each company to see how they can deliver results through their channels more efficiently.

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Conclusion: The Vision Foundation of Australia estimate that 18% of the population, or nearly four million people, have a disability and a large percentage of those people, have impaired sight. Based on a straw-poll survey of government and private enterprise websites, those disabled people will, or may, not be able to fully access most sites.

For organisations which have not made their sites compliant with the law, a casual attitude is not acceptable. To remedy some problems of access, such as, replacing text for graphics is straightforward. Adaptation, to allow for different browsers as well as voice output and Braille browsers, is also necessary.

Elements of a site including branding devices, such as pack shots, logos, as well as site functionality may also need to be overhauled, which  may mean revising the architecture and or design so that the objectives of the website remain intact.

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Conclusion: Search engine marketing is increasingly the critical edge of online marketing. With the predominance of Google as the preferred search engine around the world - some estimates assert that up to 80% of all searches are via Google - the power of that single engine to determine the marketing position of a company is influenced by this conduit. Obtaining the top results in a search has inspired strong competition from Web marketers. As Google is a fixture for online marketing, avoiding or ignoring it altogether, is unrealistic

What makes the problem of Google's ‘gateway' for Web searches perplexing for managers responsible for the content on the company's website, is how Google affects the potential value of other marketing and promotional activities.

Managers can instigate minor but effective modifications to their websites and tactical promotions in the following two ways:

1. Change the site so that it is receptive to Google's criteria
2. Re-examine, and if necessary change the links and connections with other sites so that it boosts the popularity of your own site.

These small changes may help improve website rankings and produce a marginal improvement in overall return from online marketing activity by attracting greater numbers to your site.

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