E-business gradually catches on in Lithuania

  • 2001-11-29
  • Bryan Bradley
VILNIUS - Lithuanian hesitancy to jump on the electronic-commerce bandwagon could soon change, judging from a new study and from the attendance by more than 300 local firms at a Nov. 22 e-business forum in Vilnius.

A dozen international experts addressed audiences at the second annual E-volution conference organized by Lithuania's International Management School, together with Lithuanian Information Technology leader Alna and Lietuvos Telekomas.

The event focused on practical ideas for putting the Internet and mobile telecommunications to work in areas like sales, marketing and administration.

A study this fall by the SIC Market Research firm and the InfoBalt Association showed 3 percent of Lithuanian companies were actively developing e-business solutions and another 17 percent were considering doing so.

"This is a small number and the time has come to be more daring," said Lietuvos Telekomas General Director Tapio Paarma. "Companies seem to be afraid, but the train is starting to move."

Adam Daum, vice president of U.K.-based research and consulting group Gartner G2, was more encouraging. "Those statistics show things can change quite fast," he told the gathering.

Compaq business manager for Eastern Europe Franz Scherz echoed that thought. "This year Lithuania has been our biggest revenue source in the Baltics," Sherz told The Baltic Times.

"We see a lot of companies here leapfrogging directly to the latest technologies, and we see a lot of improvement in their way of thinking."

In terms of its ability to adapt to new technologies Lithuania seems to be ahead of Latvia and is catching up with Estonia, said Scherz. But on the down side, Internet usage in Lithuania is half the level of its Baltic neighbors to the north.

An Emor poll earlier this year showed just 10 percent of Lithuanian residents had used the Internet in the past six months, compared with 17 percent of Latvians and 32 percent of Estonians.

"What's needed now is a huge expansion in terms of access to Internet, the number of PCs and so on," said Telekomas' Paarma. Telekomas, he said, is ready to lead the way in building the infrastructure needed to support E-business.