Some of the major issues facing small businesses in relation to their use of information technology are that:
They lack basic knowledge of how to use information technology effectively
They do not know how to measure the benefits of information technology
They lack the skills to plan the long-term use of information technology in the business
These shortcomings typically translate to small business use of the Internet, particularly in relation setting up Web sites (Burgess, 2002).
In order to address some of these concerns, a project was commenced in 1999 to develop a model that small businesses could apply to assist them in their decisions relating to the development and maintenance of Web sites that they used to interact with their customers. The purpose of the model was to guide small businesses through the initial planning process to eventual setting up of the Web site.
At the conclusion of the first phase of the development of the model, a conceptual framework had been developed (Burgess and Schauder, 2000). The model outlined an iterative process based around a business investigation, formulation of Web site strategy, identification of Web site features, decisions relating to the method of Web site implementation, Web site promotion and the evaluation of Web site success. Figure 2 represents this conceptual model.
It will become apparent throughout the following discussion that the model relies heavily on the interactions between the various groups in direct contact with (the organizational field of) the typical small business. The participants in this field (that the small business is central to) are primarily customers and competitors.