RealTime IT News

Spanish Show Pushes Laggard E-Business

[Madrid, SPAIN] Spain's top technology show placed renewed emphasis on e-business this week and encouraged laggard Spanish businesses to make their leap into the online realm.

The SIMO TCI-- the annual International Data Processing, Multimedia and Communications Show began on Tuesday and will run through the weekend. Of the more than 800 firms represented, half were related to information technology. One of the eight warehouse-like pavillions was reserved for companies specializing entirely in e-business.

This year's series of professional seminars, entitled "Present and Future of the Virtual Economy: Electronic Commerce Between Companies and Individuals," focused entirely on e-commerce. The four-day gathering addressed such issues as "E-commerce and technology"; "B2B company applications"; "B2C: The hour of the consumer"; and "Small and medium enterprises and E-commerce: How to become a Net-ready company."

Also within the framework of the show was an international forum on international venture capital for Internet ventures. British Telecom's Nieves Feijoo Alvarez lectured a group of investors and entrepreneurs about "the evolution of companies toward the '.com,'" and venture capitalist Jaume Berg explained tech ventures from the investor's point of view.

"We're living in a Darwinian world where we're seeing dramatic changes in the market, forcing all of us to evolve," said Berge, managing director at Granville Baird Capital Partners.

"The bad news is that there is a low number of Internet users in Spain. The good news is that the potential for market penetration is enormous."

More than 20 online entrepreneurs pitched a wide range of Net-only projects to venture capitalists from around Europe. While some of these were small, pure Internet plays, others were established Spanish firms seeking money and strategic partners to make the brick-to-click leap.

A country of 40 million, Spain tails much of Europe in the Internet game, with only five million Internet users. An even smaller percentage of these shop online. After two years of telecom liberalization, more than 55 telecoms are vying for Spanish consumers and laying down infrastructure. Broadband companies like Jazztel and ONO expect an explosion in Spanish broadband Internet needs over the next few years, and hundreds of value-added companies are vying for the expected onslaught of customers.