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Internet Usage in Small Businesses in Regional South Australia: Service Learning Opportunities for a Local University

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Nina Evans and Janet Sawyer
  • Journal Name: Education in Rural Australia
  • Journal Number: Volume 19 Issue 1
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: South Australia

The Internet offers opportunities for electronic trading in the global marketplace and as such it can provide substantial benefits to a business. Despite this, the rate of adoption of ecommerce by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia has been slower than anticipated and these benefits are not being realised. Research was undertaken by the Centre for Regional Engagement (CRE) within the University of South Australia (UniSA), in collaboration with the Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB), to investigate the current Internet and e-commerce usage by small businesses in the Whyalla region. The research focused on the perceived threat of competing with online businesses, the experience of managers and employees in using the Internet, whether the business has a web presence as a means to increase market share and whether they use the Internet to buy, market and sell their products and services. The researchers came to the conclusion that very few of the businesses surveyed used the Internet optimally, if at all. Service learning opportunities, therefore, exist for students of the School of Computer and Information Science (CIS) at a metropolitan based university to assist the regional campus and small retail businesses in Whyalla in establishing a web presence and e-commerce capabilities, suited to their business needs.

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