Table IV shows the 12 statements along with their mean and modal scores. The statements were measured using a five-point importance scale ranging from 1 = not at all important to 5 = very important. Overall, the top two factors influencing the original development of the web site are the strategic decisions made by the company and the influence of a key person within the company, suggesting the dominance of formal strategic planning. This is somewhat contradictory to the unstructured responses of some of the small IFA firms interviewed and might suggest the influence of a "halo" effect.
Indeed, Stockdale and Standing (2004) cite Hall (1995) as saying that SME's participation in e-commerce is not often characterised by formal strategic planning. However Chau (2003) in an examination of e-business activities amongst Australia SMEs, differentiates between the experimental use of E-commerce to support existing business processes and its strategic use to leverage new business opportunities and benefits. Importantly he observes that contrary to many existing staged models of e-business adoption, SMEs do not necessarily move between phases in a sequential manner. Doolin et al. (2003) draw similar conclusions in relation to larger enterprises engaged in e-commerce.
Comparing distributors (which is essentially part of an IFAs role) with manufacturers and customers, Zank and Vokurka (2003) found that distributors were more likely to believe that the role of e-business in overall strategy was a necessary response to competition than the other groups. Therefore, it seems that e-business strategy is primarily a reactive approach for distributors and may explain the inconsistency is how strategic issues have been reported between the interviews and the survey. This may explain why the internet boom in general is ranked higher than the influence of clients or product providers, suggesting a reaction to general internet excitement rather than a response to either client needs or requests from trading partners.
Table IV Factors influencing web site development
Statement Mean Mode
The influence of a key person within my company 3.06 4
Strategic decisions made by my company 3.29 3
A specific person within the company who took the lead in web developments 2.91 3
The internet boom in general 3.17 3
Individual clients expected us to have a web site 2.85 3
Corporate clients expected us to have a web site 2.73
Developments by product providers 2.65
Web site development services were offered by an outside company 2.65
Competitors were launching web sites 2.53
Software became available that we could use 2.29
My company was spending money on computers 2.20
The influence of a key person outside my company 2.01
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