Small business in the new battlefield: Government attempts at providing a secure environment
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Business
The Australian small business segment has received much attention in the press and within government during recent times. As Government departments constantly scramble to realise their own key peiformance indicators, there is a new need to incorporate achieving results for small business. Researchers have acknowledged the need to understand the systems and processes of small businesses, while suppliers and customers attempt to show how margins can improve by using new methods of transacting. This paper investigates small business response in a localised area to the Australian federal government's attempt to implement a Government Online policy. The National Office of Information Economy (NO IE) has embarked upon a campaign of getting government agencies online through its Gatekeeper program. Increasingly, these government agencies whether it is the Department of Minerals and Energy or the Department of Main Roads will be dealing with small businesses through an online relationship. For the first time, a relationship involves transacting through the Internet brought about by an exchange of goods and services for payment. The Gatekeeper program is explored specifically relating to small business getting online and doing business with government. This study reports the results of an online survey conducted within the Wanneroo/Joondalup small business region in Western Australia. This area services a population of 250,000 and around 8, 000 businesses. The survey questioned small business about a range of issues including Internet security, knowledge of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) encryption technology, the Gatekeeper program and concerns with privacy. The online survey results show the uncertainty small business has regarding their involvement in the new economy.