Notes Figures are percentages Pearson chisquare 11243 df 6 sig 0081

way in which the web site is used with implications for the whole of the supply chain. Innovators and early adopters are more likely to have a clearer reason for developing a web site and are making most advanced use of it, with obvious benefits for both suppliers and customers.

The key contribution of the research, both academically and practically, is that it provides an understanding of the factors that affect intermediary web site adoption and the role that the factors can play in widening e-participation among financial intermediaries. Rogers (1995) acknowledges that "a common problem for many individuals and organisations is how to speed up the rate of diffusion of an innovation" (p. 1). While research into web adoption exists in the context of travel and tourism and also online banking (see, for example, Wynne et al., 2001; Sathye, 1999), research into financial intermediaries and the adoption of online technology remains lacking (Laing, 1995). Adoption of technology among UK financial intermediaries is relatively limited (Datamonitor, 2002). Hence, research that offers a closer understanding of the factors that may widen e-participation is of benefit. It is widely acknowledged within the UK pensions and insurance industry that the future of efficient business lies with technology (see Pensions Management, June 2004). Yet, developing an online system is a major financial commitment that providers cannot afford to undertake without widespread support and acceptance from intermediaries (see Pensions Management, September 2004).

In terms of the specific factors affecting web site adoption, the findings of this research suggest that innovators' and early adopters' web site adoption is planned and deliberate, consistent with the overall business strategy. In order to make adoption successful, providers need to understand the strategic orientation of intermediaries to ensure that the right facilities and services are offered. For example, different emphasis will be placed on web facilities to achieve transaction volume growth compared with increased service for existing clients.

Innovators and early adopters have been shown to comprise mainly larger firms with larger turnovers, which is also supported by the findings of this research. Due to the size and degree of fragmentation of the financial intermediary market, product providers have tended to develop relationships with a number of preferred intermediaries, developing proprietary technology and networks. This tailoring of developments to typically larger organisations is argued to be a barrier to e-marketplace participation (Stockdale and Standing, 2004). However, a large proportion of the financial intermediary sector comprises small and medium sized enterprises. Some of the barriers to adoption relate to recognised problems common to SME e-commerce adoption, such as connectivity, while others are more specific to the individual company such as lack of resources. In contrast, the realisation of the benefits of participation generally rests with the ability of individual SMEs to identify opportunities and to plan their online trading effectively within the constraints of their industry environment.

The early majority are mainly influenced by the actions of competitors and appear to be operating a "copy-cat" strategy. For providers this is important in that they need to be aware of what the current trends are among intermediaries and show an appreciation of the most common or frequently requested web tools and facilities in order to make adoption beneficial. The late majority and the laggards are mostly influenced by

Tina Harrison and Kathryn Waite opportunities that arose or were presented to them to take advantage of web site technology, particularly services offered by IT/software developers.

In terms of what these findings mean for providers in attempting to widen e-participation, the relationship between larger companies in developing technological relationships is seen as important, not only in capturing a significant part of the marketplace but also in terms of providing an example by which other firms influenced by a "me-too" development strategy can follow. However, given the disadvantages associated with developments tailored to larger or preferred intermediaries, an alternative or complementary approach might be to communicate with IT suppliers. A significant proportion of the sample appear to be influenced by the emergent driver - essentially opportunities that arose or emerged to develop a web site provided by external parties, mainly software developers. Rather than attempting to develop a technological relationship directly with financial intermediaries, a networked approach might prove more beneficial in this context, whereby IT suppliers act as a further intermediary in the technology supply chain between provider and IFA. This approach does not necessarily have to preclude individual provider-intermediary relationships but may offer a more inclusive approach to technology adoption and speed up the rate at which it is adopted.

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