Hong Kong has everything in place to take advantage of e-commerce but it has yet to happen because people have not been innovative enough in their thinking, according to a panel of experts. The panel, which met to discuss these issues at City University of Hong Kong yesterday, was moderated by Louis Ma, associate head of information systems of the City University. Present were Peter Yan, chief executive officer of e-business services; Charles Chow, general manager for the e-enterprise solution division of the Hong Kong Productivity Council; Stephen Law, managing director of Strategic Systems Consultants; Professor Douglas Vogel, chair professor of information technology at City University; and Professor Robert Zmud of the University of Oklahoma. Mr Chow said Hong Kong had done well to create the right infrastructure, but the question remained as to how to develop e-business on top of it. 'We do a half-yearly study on the adoption of e-business in Hong Kong, in which there are five levels starting at zero for nothing and going as high as five for a company that is fully able to do e-commerce. Most of Hong Kong is at level two, which includes a Web page and e-mail access,' he said. There were two focal points for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said. 'Thanks to people like Bill Gates [chairman of Microsoft] and Tim Berners-Lee [inventor of the World Wide Web], there is no cost barrier to owning a desktop computer and getting Internet access. Apart from the low cost, there is also the fact that global companies are moving quickly to this region and they are demanding online transactions,' he said. Success in this area in Hong Kong will depend on the ability of local enterprises to innovate, he said. Mr Law said innovation was unlikely to develop unless companies understood the value of managing knowledge. 'Untreated raw data is of little use to any one today. Too much information can also be bad,' he said. 'Most of the time, people buy insurance from a company or agent they trust, not simply from the cheapest provider,' he said. E-commerce must also think along these lines. What Hong Kong people have not grasped quickly is how things have moved from the desktop to the network. Mr Vogel said: 'There is a lot of change going on. Everything is now far more network-centric than before. There are lots of personal mobile devices and that means we are doing more 'just-in-time' than we are 'just-in-case'.'