What is the status of e-business in Norway?
This reports looks at the use of advanced e-business tools like e-marketplaces and the work done by the government and through legislation.
Norway is a large country with a small population. 4.6 million people inhabits an area of about 387 000 square kilometres with only 11.7 inhabitants per square kilometre. There are large regions that are very scarcely populated, contributing to a setting where electronic communication is very attractive.
In addition, Norway has the advantage of rich resources, mainly of oil and gas, producing a gross national product of about 30 800 Euro per person.
Since telecommunication expanded and the use of the internet and mobile phones became popular, Norway has considered itself to be among the world leaders in use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), mainly within the personal and home use, but also for companies. The 2005 e-readiness ranking from the Economist Intelligence Unit also confirms that Western Europe is the 2nd highest ranking region with Norway ranked in 9th place. The report confirms that Norway is a global leader in ICT infrastructure, but ranks lower than the other Nordic countries because it has not been able to transform this as well into intellectual property rights – measured by the number of patents registered per resident.
There are 452 000 companies in Norway, and like most other countries, micro-sized companies (10 or less employees) account for 89% of them. The remaining 11% of the companies produce 83% of turnover and employs 74% of the workforce.
The use of Internet and e-business is widespread among Norwegian companies. Measuring from 1998, the number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) with more than 10 employees (10+) that had Internet access grew from 40% to 87%. This increase has now levelled out and reached its peak. Within the same period, the number of 10+ companies with homepages grew from 20% to 61%. About 2% of all companies sell digital products and services via their homepages, and 10% of the companies have received orders via their homepage. The turnover via homepages was about 5 billion Euros in 2003.
More advanced use of e-business is low in Norway, as in most other countries. The Welsh eCommerce Innovation Centre defines a 7-step ladder of e-commerce . In 2004 less than 5% of the Welsh companies had reached the level where they have an online store, have integrated IT-systems with their business partners or use advanced e-commerce, like electronic marketplaces.
Lacking similar studies, but being able to compare Norway to Denmark we can use the results from the “Participation in an Internet-Based Trading Community 2002” as a basis. This study shows that about 95% of the companies had heard about the concept of an Internet marketplace, but only 2.8% participate as a buyer, 7.9% as seller, and only 5.6% as both buyer and seller.
These numbers are also consistent with other studies and reports, some of which have been published on the eMarketServices portal.
E-business and the use of more advanced tools like electronic marketplaces is still giving the companies a competitive advantage if they are able to implement it successfully within their organisations and are able to attract the buyers. As the recent case study about Wittusen & Jensen shows (“The customers are driving the e-business now”, December 2005), e-business has moved from being primarily a marketing tool, to being a required service that the buyers have come to expect.
Raúl Sánchez Costa, ICEX
Raúl Sánchez Costa, ICEX
Karen Hynes, Enterprise Ireland
Annette Kreisel, EVD
Mário Morais, Icep Portugal