Workshop on “eBusiness in industry sectors
and its impact on European regions”
Brussels, 31st March 2004
The IANIS Coordination Team and eBusines W@tch have co-organised a workshop
on eBusiness in industry sectors and its impact on European regions. The event
gathered together European Commission, regions and industry representatives to hear
about and discuss experiences from eBusiness practices both from the regions and the
industry perspectives. The final objective of the workshop was to collect the basis for
the drafting of a Guide to Policy and Good Practices in eBusiness.
Gareth Hughes, Project Director of IANIS, and Werner Korte, from the eBusiness
W@tch Project (empirica GmbH) welcomed participants and co-chaired the
The European eBusiness w@tch,
an initiative of the European Commission, DG Enterprise
(Mr. Werner Korte)
Werner Korte, introduced the European eBusiness W@tch to participants. This
initiative was launched in January 2002 and is co-ordinated by empirica GmbH, a
small research organisation based in Bonn (Germany). Its main aims are to draw a
sectorial perspective on the development of eBusiness and moreover, to study the
impacts of eBusiness on value-chains and its policy implications.
A corner stone of the initiative is an annual eBusiness survey. Two surveys have been
made so far, for the years 2002 and 2003. In 2002, 9.264 enterprises from 15 sectors
of the EU 15 were surveyed and in 2003, about 10.500 enterprises were studied, both
from EU 15 and the 10 Acceding Countries (the IT managers of these enterprises
were interviewed on the phone).
The main objectives of the eBusiness W@tch for data collection and reporting are to
be compatible with the latest internationally agreed definitions and frameworks to
measure eBusiness and to deliver the results in real time. The eBusinessW@tch
intends to constitute a conceptual framework for studying eBusiness developments
and has therefore elaborated a methodology that includes three different criteria:
1) Readiness of enterprises to develop eBusiness,
2) their activity (with a focus on the shift from e-Commerce centred view towards
business process oriented frameworks), and
3) the impact of eBusiness on enterprises (in terms of productivity, relationships to
customers, impact on sales, etc).
The eBusiness W@tch‟s methodology is also based on the impact of eBusiness on
various sectors: procurement, supply chain integration, delivery logistics, marketing,
sales and after sales services.
A number of publications and eBusiness statistics are available at
eBSN, DG Entreprise, EC
(Mr. G. Karageorgos)
G. Karageorgos, from DG Enterprise from the European Commission explained that
eBSN (eBusiness Support Network) is responsible for developing policies and
measures to promote the competitiveness of European enterprises in the frame of
eEurope 2005 Action Plan. The measures undertaken focus on promoting the take-up
of eBusiness by SMEs.
From a business perspective, Karageorgos said that eEurope 2005 is based on five
pillars: eBusiness W@tch, European eSkills Forum, European eBusiness Support
Network (eBSN), European eBusiness legal portal (ELEAS) and eEurope 2005
Standards Action Plan.
The origins of the eBSN can be found on one hand on the „Go Digital‟ initiative of the
EC, that comprised 18 awareness campaigns, including 130 events, and on the other,
initiatives for benchmarking national and regional policies; afterwards came the
Council Conclusions 5/2003 “Adapting eBusiness Policies in a changing
The objectives of the eBSN are to improve co-ordination of European e-Business
policies, to exchange good practices of eBusiness for SMEs, and to discuss new
challenges in this field with a view to adopting eBusiness policies.
After one year of existence, eBSN has managed to gather 150 members and has
organised 4 workshops during which a certain number of initiatives were presented.
The next steps are, first of all, to put the eBSN portal on line (www.e-bsn.org), what
will happen next 9th April, to develop a SME self-assessment tool (eSAT) and finally,
to launch twinning initiatives to test the potential of transferability of tools and
methodologies to tackle specific SME problems.
Karageorgos highlighted the important role of the eBusiness W@tch, which provides
research and background for the development of new policies. Moreover, it enables to
better understand the structural changes at macro and micro levels by eBusiness
adoption, it uses more than numbers and statistics to asses economic and sectorial
impact, provides new indicators and explores new areas, hence, enhancing policy
formulation. An «e-typology» of sectors and size classes has been developed to study
the evolution of eBusiness in a better way.
Promoting eBusiness at Regional Level – The Innovative Actions Programme
DG Regio, EC (Mr. Jean-Bernard Benhaiem)
Jean-Bernard Benhaiem, from DG Regio, said that after three years of implementation
of the Innovative Actions Programme (financed by ERDF), regions should take full
benefit of their actions. It is important to guide regions towards their own
development; they must think about themselves and make an assessment, then work
together and experiment risky ideas (based on the RISI lessons). The Innovative
Actions Programme was born to increase the competitiveness of regions, boost their
capacity in the knowledge based economy, learn from others, deploy risky ideas and
improve the quality of the mainstream (Objective 1 and 2). The regional authorities
should not miss this challenge.
Benhaiem explained that the RISI approach is still valid, since the Innovative Actions
Programme is about changing processes in the regions. In this context, regions should
develop a regional strategy and an action plan based on the regional needs. They
should also develop consensus and partnership among key actors-“EU is still a group
of Member States and not a group of Regions”-said Benhaiem, and the European
Commission should try to let the regions learn by doing. Priorities should be set and
benchmarked in line with regional development policy and draw collective action.
And inter-regional networking and the exchange of good practices should be
The achievements of the Innovative Actions Programmes are numerous: 139 regional
programmes have been adopted (ERDF, 346 M EUR), as well as 3 network
programmes (including IANIS). The choice of themes by the regions when launching
their programmes were 75% for technology innovation, 75% for information society
and 25% for sustainable development.
The Innovative Action Programmes have enabled the development of e-commerce
and eBusiness for SMEs and new business process through ICT. This includes
initiatives related to eCommerce (example of Extremadura where the new „business
culture” is being developed), e-transactions, web services for firms, knowledge
management, tele-working, broadband, web sites with an emphasis on applications
and ownership confidence, security & transparency; employees training to use ICT,
networking of firms, etc.
However, regional e-business is not so well advanced yet. More political will is
Why Information Society?
DG INFSO, Mr. Francesco Nachira
Francesco Nachira started his presentation by calling for further interaction between
the different DGs of the European Commission and by highlighting the existing gap
between EU and US enterprises.
He said that the adoption and use of ICT is one of the major factors for producing
gain: internet creates new opportunities of business and increases productivity in all
sectors and in all kind of business. ICT support the emergence of future business
forms designed to exploit the opportunities and manage the challenges posed by the
socio-economic and technical revolution of the 21st century. Future business will be
competitive only if innovative.
However, there are vicious circles to be broken like weak networks infrastructures
which leads to unavailability of on line services and vice-versa. In addition, Nachira
stressed that the digital divide between small and bigger enterprises is growing.
An analyse of successful clusters models has been done (emphasising the external
networking dimension, knowledge transfer, social learning). An evolution has been
noted, moving from the „Industrial District‟ (1922-1996) to the „Growth Node Model‟
(2000) to finish with the „Business Ecosystems‟ (2002), which consists on a economic
community supported by a foundation of interaction of organisations and individuals.
As Nachira explained, his unit tries to help organisations adapt themselves to the new
complex global situation, addressing the key challenges in eBusiness.
Each region has its own business ecosystem. In this socio-economic context there is a
rational chain: “support-policy-improvement-business models-encouragement-co-
operation-improvement-market-internal efficiency- all this leads to GROWTH”. Each
region should decide by itself, but being part of a global network is important and
must be taken into account. ICT can catalyse co-operation, for instance, by developing
open standards (as to avoid monopolies), since they formalise innovation and co-
The strategic goals for a successful development of digital ecosystems are first of all
to facilitate ICT adoption by European SMEs and reduce the digital divide, secondly
to support EU SMEs software producers and finally, to consider that it is software that
should adapt to SMEs rather than SMEs adapting to software.
Gareth Hughes insisted on the need for regions to avoid replication of other region‟s
strategies, since these should be developed to respond to the region‟s needs.
Experience of eBusiness in Tourism
Dr. Dimitrios Buhalis
Dr. Dimitrios Buhalis, from the School of Management of the University of Surrey in
UK, stressed out the importance of the development of the tourism sector in the
regions. Indeed, the tourism sector is a way to enable regions to promote their culture
and their differences/distinctions, and furthermore, it is a major contributor to the
regions‟ GDP (with a percentage of 11 %), and it enables SMEs to concentrate and
develop within the regions, and have a multiplier effect to attract other industries.
ICT links all the different layers for tourism. Of course, eTourism needs to constitute
a proper structure of its own with partnerships and networks in the whole tourism
infospace. A great synergy between numerous entities is needed to develop successful
eTourism. Indeed, collaboration should exist between ICT at an international level,
management organisations and local and national governments, principal services,
superstructures (airports, hospitals), etc.
eTourism is developing very fast at European level. Research (Continental Research,
12th Feb 2004) shows that in the UK the buying of airline tickets was the most
frequent transaction for online UK adults, followed by banking, supermarket
shopping, music downloads and insurance.
As far as the travel market is concerned, online air services are one of the most used
services and is evolving a lot, followed by train services, car rental, and hotels
The most advanced regions in Europe as far as eTourism is concerned are in the UK
(because of the maturity of eCommerce). UK is followed by Germany (where
eTourism is growing very fast), then France, Scandinavian countries, and finally the
Southern European countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece).
There are some examples of co-operation between different airline companies that
have created a common web-site, and then the co-operation between hotels and travel
agencies in the region. In the eTourism sector, co-operation is needed between the
host population, tourists, the public sector, enterprises and of course tour operators
that will create together a wheel of tourism stakeholders.
eBusiness and Health
Mr. Hans Fürst
Mr. Hans Fürst, from Nassauische Heimstätte, Germany, made a presentation
showing the role that eBusiness can have in the Health domain. He started by
presenting the general demographic situation in Germany, where needs are increasing
with regards the ageing population (social, health, alarm, security, and communication
and conversation services).
After the overview, the project APPS (Application Pilot for People with Special
Needs) –Tele-Dienst was presented. The project is based on high quality analogue
broadband-networks (TV-network) and sets up the services for people with special
needs. The services (that are local) proposed are: assistance in everyday life, specific
information services, health and care services, support services, support services for
nursing relatives and video telephony services. The project has its own service centre
and the importance is put on the well being of its clients (elderly people).
The aim of the project is to build up an “electronic village well”, and it has the
positive effects on everyday life for the elderly tenants.
eHealth oriented projects require the following features for their future development:
reliable networks and self explanatory systems, more and comprehensive offers both
with regard to video based services and web based services, improvements in menu
design and user interfaces.
Region of Piedmont
Mr. Claudio Inguaggiato, from Piedmont (2nd largest region in Italy) stressed that their
local development strategies have progressed towards a stronger focus on e-business
and SMEs. Regional actions (regional organisations, projects and infrastructure) are
set up, but it takes a lot of time to be effective. Regional organisations support the
spreading of ICT and telecom operators are putting together the services to mitigate
the market. Attention is accorded to the development of ICT in education.
Then Mr. Inguaggiato presented one of the regional projects, called DIADI 2004-
2006 (Introduction of Innovation and ICT in Industrial Decline Areas). DIADI,
financed by the Structural Funds, is linked to EC Digital Business Ecosystem Project.
The main actions of the project are:
Studies and analysis of the local SMEs needs for innovation and ICT, and models
for local networked business (socio-economic actions).
Territorial actions to establish an ecosystem (with Public Private Partnerships) for
Technology actions that aim to develop an open source environment.
DIADI in Piedmont intends to develop a technological framework based on common
tools and aligned to the most recent local plans on Broadband to experiment
innovative services supply systems and start up of new business models.
Mr. Josu Ocariz
Mr. Josu Ocariz, from the Basque Country, presented the region, his business
environment and the structure of IS. He stressed the role and the development of ICT
in the region.
Mr. Ocariz presented the aims of „Digital Company‟ initiative, which are:
incorporation and application of ICT in Basque companies (improving their
competitiveness) and development of new technologies in businesses (contributing to
diversification). He explained the implementation cycle of Digital Companies from
awareness of the scope and importance to change, identification of opportunities for
implementation of ICT in business, selection of opportunities with greatest impact and
implementation of ICT, to diagnostic and, at the end, sharing of experiences.
He presented some of projects that promote the incorporation of ICT into business,
that support reflection and identification of opportunities for the implementation of
ICT in the business of the companies and that train employees of microcompanies in
the use of ICTs in their business activities.
Mr. David Byers
The Western part of Scotland (Glasgow) used to be a very industrial part of the
country (heavy industries now replaced by the ICT, software industries, gas
industries), as David Byers explained. He presented his experience in the of Dumfies
and Galloway, a very sparsely populated area with two main towns (of 40.000
inhabitants the biggest) situated in Western Scotland and that are not very rich
economically. In the implementation of their plans they follow the directions given
from the Central organisation (Scottish-Enterprise), but doing it in their own way.
The industry of the area by sector is divided as follows (90% of companies are micro-
enterprises): agriculture represents 40 %, retail and services 30%, tourism 16%,
manufacturing 12%, others sectors, including ICT represent 2%. Due to the Foot and
Mouth disease, the region was physically isolated during 2001. Afterwards, business
restarted to do business in a more secure way, and introduced ICT in sectors as
tourism and agriculture. Other companies, not directly affected by the disease started
doing the same thing and in 2003, the region achieved a record in tourist visits thanks
to the promotion done through the web. Today, 30% of SMEs use ICT.
The region uses several tools for awareness raising, including seminars, conferences
and workshops to demonstrate best practices applications, printed guides or
downloadable PDFs, websites, case studies, online diagnosis tools, videos, etc. There
is also individual support advisor to help the companies to specify their projects, and
provide financial assistance to implement solutions (grants, loans). Software
development enterprises are encouraged to form trade associations.
The impact on the regional economy is very positive. The programme budget for three
years was 1,6 million €, and over 1000 businesses have decided to get assistance and
the net attributable business generated is of 18,7 million €. eBusiness may not create a
large number of jobs but it does protect existing jobs and makes a significant positive
impact on gross value added.
The next challenge is broadband.
Region of Silesia
Mr. Przemyslaw Surma
Przemyslaw Surma, from Silesia Region in Poland, started the presentation with a
short description of the region to show that Silesia belongs to one of the three most
innovative regions in Poland (with Mazovia and Malopolska Regions).
Even if lagging behind the EU average, 81% of regional communities have their
website; 286,3 of inhabitants (out of 1000) have the telephone connections and 11%
of Silesian population use the Internet (2nd place after Mazovia). 7% of top IT
companies in Poland are located in Silesia.
Surma stressed a key need in the Region: co-operation with European regions, and
European enterprises as the region has a solid academic background (33 academic
centres and 190 000 students).
Werner Korte, co-chair of the workshop, opened two questions to the audience:
Is there anything at all that regional policy could do to favour the take-up
Should imitation be used as a strategy?
Claudio Inguaggiato, from Piedmont, clearly expressed that imitation cannot provide
results. Each region is complex so it is not advisable to imitate others. On regards
public intervention, he pointed out that IANIS has already discussed about broadband
and the fact that market cannot be left alone. Public intervention is needed to
guarantee broadband access for all. Werner Korte agreed that regions are struggling
because of legacy systems.
David Byers added that broadband deployment is seriously restricted by telecom
infrastructures in rural areas and the cost of new ones are prohibitive. Gareth Hughes
added that besides, the cost of broadband deployment in rural areas is higher, what
provides a rationale for public intervention if a digital divide is to be avoided. From
his point of view, for regional enterprises to be competitive, they need good services
(at their own choice), what requires infrastructure (not only broadband, but also
support, advise, etc).
Moreover, Gareth Hughes said there is a need to exchange not only good practices,
but failures. Digital ecosystems require failure, which is a precondition to
development and innovation, and hence, competition. Francesco Nachira, from DG
INFSO, agreed on the fact that nobody is keen to talk about it, even when it is known
that 87% of EU projects are failures. As per the digital ecosystems, he added that
users need transparency to choose their options. Knowledge Management Systems
needs to be able to analyse its internal functioning or there will be a digital divide in
terms of knowledge.
Coming back to imitation, Lourdes Acedo Montoya, from Andalucía, stressed that the
question is not to copy good practices, but taking a „model‟ that might work in one‟s
region. Regarding the take up of eBusiness in microfilms and their participation in
EU projects, she thought said that learning cost money and time, which is exactly
what theses companies do not have in excess, and that preparing a project proposal is
too difficult and time consuming for them too. Dimitrios Buhalis explained that in
Ireland there was an initiative to give training for free, but it did not work (people was
more interested in taking cooking lessons that learning to use internet), because in his
opinion „SMEs only go to the region when they need money‟.
Gareth Hughes took the floor to express that there is a programmatic approach in the
Structural Funds with target, indicators, etc for the next 6 years. There is a need to
look at soft infrastructure of regions to understand that there is a life-cycle of business
and bet for those that will survive. Claudio Inguaggiato added that regions have many
external pressures and need to make choices. In his case, companies running well are
out of their strategy and focus is made on the most needed ones.
Gareth Hughes also commented on the need for further synergies among the different
DGs and to approach the whole value chain and recommended to write open and
flexible regional programmes, since the Structural Funds are already quite rigid.
Werner Korte added that there the EC should work further to develop indicators, since
the ones provided for the eEurope2005 initiative are not at all useful.