The meeting was the first of a pilot group set up by the National Computing Centre, working in partnership with the Construction Industry Computing Association. The National Computing Centre chose construction for the pilot because it has a complicated supply chain and some experience of electronic trading. If the group is successful, it will be repeated in other sectors.
Last week’s meeting was hosted by the DETR with a representative from both the DETR and the Department of Trade and Industry. A cross-section of construction figures were invited, including David Taffs, director of Ove Arup & Partners, Michael Ankers, chief executive of the Construction Products Association, Liz Bridge, taxation director at the Construction Confederation, and Ken France, IT director at Laing.
Ian Hamilton, chief executive of the Construction Industry Computing Association, said: “One of the main aims of the group is to make sure that construction has a direct input into the DTI. The idea is that we have a representative of the main sector groups and will be coming together with the DETR and the DTI to give feedback and comments.”
The drawbacks of electronic trading identified at the meeting included the large number of small and medium-sized firms that do not have the resources to adopt new technology and the need for standards in electronic data transfer.
John Perkins, chief executive of the National Computing Centre, said: “My purpose is to get a better user voice in the politics of e-commerce. We want to bring together users so we can focus on their needs and concerns. We need to get them talking about their own business so they get more practical views.”
The format for future meetings has yet to be decided, but they could be held over the Internet.
The National Computing Centre is a research organisation funded by membership.