Blair: You have 15 months to get online, or else

Get online, or the government will refuse to use you as a supplier
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

Prime Minister Tony Blair warned all businesses Monday that they have just 15 months to get online or face being ostracised by his government which plans to buy exclusively online by 2002.

In his speech at the launch of UK Online, Blair announced a bonus £15m for online business, in addition to the £10m pledged to businesses in this year's budget.

"We are going to use the government's power as a purchaser to ensure that all government purchasing will be made online by 2002," Blair said. 27 percent of UK companies are currently trading online, but the PM warned that all companies doing business with the government must have an Internet presence by 2002.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, 1.7m small businesses have already smashed the government's target of getting 1.5m businesses online by 2002. Around 81 percent of UK businesses are now connected to the Internet according to the DTI's forthcoming International Benchmarking Study. These figures negate concerns from the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation report e-commerce@its.best.uk of last September which found only two percent of the UK's directors saw the Internet as a serious competitive threat.

"The challenge now is not just getting connected but succeeding online using the new ways of working that e-commerce and new e-business practices bring," said E-Minister Patricia Hewitt.

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