Tony Blair spearheaded the government's latest drive to encourage the UK to do business online, with the appointment of Alex Allen, former High Commissioner to Australia, as the UK's 'e-envoy'.
Allen will work alongside 'e-minister' Patricia Hewitt, who gave the keynote speech at Sun Microsystem's conference at Battersea power station this week, where the vendor announced a venture capital fund to help UK firms set up ecommerce operations.
Blair's speech coincided with the publication of a report by the Cabinet Office's performance and innovation unit, which recommended how to overcome inertia in Britain's businesses.
The report revealed the UK is falling behind e-commerce economies such as the US and Germany, as well as Norway and Finland. Blair warned business risked losing out to internet competition from abroad. "If you don't see the internet as an opportunity, it will be a threat," he said.
Sun resellers hope the vendor's efforts will turn into sales. Brian Morwood, director of Advanced Information Access, said his ecommerce services business has yet to make the money it ought to. "I'm looking forward to talking to customers when they get back from the conference," he said.
Bramwell Moffat, operation director at ForeSight Business Solutions, said: "The UK's attitude to ecommerce definitely lags behind Europe. It needs a champion - let's hope this makes a difference."
Chris Jones, senior analyst at Canalys, said: "It's something UK companies need to hear - hopefully there's going to be some real substance behind all the hot air."
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