The co-chair of the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI) says ensuring all small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) benefit from and participate in the e-economy should be a national priority. In an interview with Network Letter at the e-Commerce to the e-Economy conference, Terry Walsh, CeBI’s co-chair and president of Cisco Systems Canada Ltd. says that for this to happen there needs to be greater government involvement at the political level and that it should become a national priority.  Walsh says research exists that shows Canada’s SMEs are already falling behind global counterparts in other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations. He explains that Canadian SMEs’ use of ICT in business processes hasn’t progressed at the same rate as in other OECD nations in the past two years.  This trend seems to fly in the face of the apparent economic and fiscal benefits of using ICT, he says. CeBI research indicates that on average SMEs can realize a 9.5% increase in revenue and reduce costs by an average of 7%. In the most extreme cases, SMEs report a 40% increase in revenue and post a 150% increase in profits.  "Multiply that across the entire economy where 99% of businesses are SMEs, the impact on the economy is something that should have the attention of the prime minister and his (people)," Walsh tells NL. Walsh says there needs to be greater political will for this issue. "We would like to see in the Speech from the Throne that the government clearly understands the driver of economic growth that this represents," he states.  CeBI’s next immediate step is to work on putting SME ICT on the political agenda, a difficult task in the current environment on Parliament Hill. This is why, says Walsh, that CeBI will wait until the political involvement is there before it makes any firm plans for a plan. "Once it’s on the agenda then we can get together in partnerships with all the people who are volunteering to help and build out a strategy around that. But what we don’t want to do is to build a plan first without having it on the agenda because that would be little bit like ‘let’s do some more research.’ We’ve done that and we know what the problem is and now we need a concerted effort," he explains.  Walsh likens the current situation to that of a number of years ago when large corporations began to realize the benefits of using the Internet to transform business processes. "If you go back five or six years ago, the idea that Internet business solutions would deliver a competitive advantage was, some believed it, and some didn’t. There was a mixed view … At the end of that process we went from not everybody thinking it was a competitive advantage through to nobody believing it was a competitive advantage, it’s just a business fundamental," he says. "What’s missing is someone to stand up and say ‘we’re taking leadership of this. We’re setting some goals and we’re setting some criteria by which those goals get measured," Wash says of the need for political involvement.