The concept of E-service (short for electronic service), represents one prominent application of utilizing the use of Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in different areas. However, providing an exact definition of e-service is hard to come by as researchers have been using different definitions to describe e-service. Despite these different definitions, it can be argued that they all agree about the role of technology in facilitating the delivery of services which make them more of electronic services.

It seems compelling to adopt Rowley (2006) approach who defines e-services as: “…deeds, efforts or performances whose delivery is mediated by information technology. Such e-service includes the service element of e-tailing, customer support, and service delivery”. This definition reflect three main components- service provider, service receiver and the channels of service delivery (i.e., technology). For example, as concerned to public e-service, public agencies are the service provider and citizens as well as businesses are the service receiver. The channel of service delivery is the third requirement of e-service. Internet is the main channel of e-service delivery while other classic channels (e.g. telephone, call center, public kiosk, mobile phone, television) are also considered.

Definitions and Origin of the term E-service

Since its conceptual inception in the late 1980s in Europe and formal introduction in 1993 by the US Government, the term ‘E-Government’ has now become one of the recognized research domains especially in the context of public policy and now has been rapidly gaining strategic importance in public sector modernization. E-service is one of the branches of this domain and its attention has also been creeping up among the practitioners and researchers.

E-Service (or ‘eService’) is a highly generic term, usually referring to ‘The provision of services via the Internet (the prefix 'e' standing for ‘electronic’, as it does in many other usages), thus e-Service may also include e-Commerce, although it may also include non-commercial services (online), which is usually provided by the government.’ (Alexei Pavlichev & G. David Garson, 2004: 169-170; Muhammad Rais & Nazariah, 2003: 59, 70-71).

'E-Service constitutes the online services available on the Internet, whereby a valid transaction of buying and selling (procurement) is possible, as opposed to the traditional websites, whereby only descriptive information are available, and no online transaction is made possible.' (Jeong, 2007).

E-service benefits

Lu (2001) identifies a number of benefits for e-services, some of these are:
  • Accessing a greater customer base
  • Broadening market reach
  • Lowering of entry barrier to new markets and cost of acquiring new customers
  • Alternative communication channel to customers
  • Increasing services to customers
  • Enhancing perceived company image
  • Gaining competitive advantages
  • Potential for increasing customer knowledge

E-service domain

The term ‘E-service’ has many applications and can be found in many disciplines. The two dominant application areas of e-services are:

E-Business (or E-Commerce): e-services mostly provided by businesses or Non-government Organizations (NGOs) (private sector).

E-government: e-services provided by government to citizens or business (public sector is the supply side). The use and description of the e-service in this page will be limited to the context of e-government only where of the e-service is usually associated with prefix “public”: Public e-services. In some cases, we will have to describe aspects that are related to both fields like some conferences or journals which cover the concept of “e-Service” in both domains of e-government and e-business.


Depending on the types of services, there are certain functionalities required in the certain layers of e-service architectural framework, these are but not limited to – Data layer (data sources), processing layers ( customer service systems, management systems, data warehouse systems, integrated customer content systems), exchange layer (Enterprise Application Integration
Enterprise application integration
Enterprise Application Integration is defined as the use of software and computer systems architectural principles to integrate a set of enterprise computer applications.- Overview :...

– EAI), Interaction layer ( integrating e-services), and presentation layer (customer interface through which the web pages and e-services are linked).

E-service Quality

Measuring service quality
Service quality
Service quality involves a comparison of expectations with performance.According to Lewis and Booms service quality is a measure of how well a delivered service matches the customers expectations....

 and service excellence are important in a competitive organizational environment. The SERVQUAL
SERVQUAL or RATER is a service quality framework. SERVQUAL was developed in the mid eighties by Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry.-Concept:SERVQUAL was originally measured on 10 aspects of service quality: reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security,...

- service quality model is one of the widely used tools for measuring quality of the service on various aspects. The five attributes of this model are: reliability, responsiveness, assurance, tangibles, and empathy. The following table summarizes some major of these:
SERVQUAL Kaynama & Black (2000) Zeithaml (2002) Janda et al. (2002) Alawattegama & Wattegama (2008)
Reliability Content Access Access Factual information
Responsiveness Access Ease of navigation Security Business information
Assurance Navigation Efficiency Sensation General information
Tangibles Design Flexibility Information/content Consumer‐ related information
Empathy Response Reliability
Background Personalization
Personalization Security/privacy
Site aesthetics
Price knowledge

The LIRNEasia
LIRNEasia is an information and communication technology policy and regulation think-tank active across the Asia Pacific region. The organization is incorporated under the Sri Lankan law as a non-profit organization. It was launched in September 2004 under the leadership of...

 study on benchmarking national telecom regulator websites focuses on content than on accessibility and ease of use, unlike the other studies mentioned here. Websites are increasingly important portals to government agencies, especially in the context of information society
Information society
The aim of the information society is to gain competitive advantage internationally through using IT in a creative and productive way. An information society is a society in which the creation, distribution, diffusion, use, integration and manipulation of information is a significant economic,...

 reforms. Stakeholders, including businesses, investors and even the general public, are interested in information produced by these agencies, and websites can help to increase their transparency and accountability. The quality of its website also demonstrates how advanced a regulatory agency is.

E-service cost factor

Some major cost factors are (Lu, 2001):
  • Expense of setting up applications
  • Maintaining applications
  • Internet connection
  • Hardware/software
  • Security concerns
  • legal issues
  • Training; and
  • Rapid technology changes
  • lalala

Practical Examples of E-Services in the Developing World

Information Technology is a powerful tool for accelerating economic development. Developing countries have focused on the development of ICT during the last two decades and as a result, it has been recognized that ICT is critical to economy and is as a catalyst of economic development. So, in recent years there seems to have been efforts for providing various e-services in many developing countries since ICT is believed to offer considerable potential for the sustainable development of e-Government and as a result, e-Services.

Many government agencies in developed countries have taken progressive steps toward the web and ICT use, adding coherence to all local activities on the Internet, widening local access and skills, opening up interactive services for local debates, and increasing the participation of citizens on promotion and management of the territory(Graham and Aurigi, 1997).

But the potential for eGovernment in developing countries remains largely unexploited, even though. ICT is believed to offer considerable potential for the sustainable development of eGovernment. Different human, organizational and technological factors,
issues and problems pertain in these countries, requiring focused studies and appropriate approaches. ICT, in general, is referred to as an “enabler”, but on the other hand it should also be regarded as a challenge and a peril in itself. The organizations, public or private,which ignore the potential value and use of ICT may suffer pivotal competitive disadvantages. Nevertheless, some eGovernment initiatives have flourished in developing countries too, e.g. Brazil, India, Chile, etc. What the experience in these countries shows, is that governments in the developing world can effectively exploit and appropriate the benefits of ICT, but eGovernment success entails the accommodation of certain unique conditions,needs and obstacles. The adaptive challenges of eGovernment go far beyond technology, they call for organizational structures and skills, new forms of leadership, transformation of public-private partnerships (Allen et al., 2001).

Following are a few examples regarding e-services in some developing countries:

E-services in Rwanda

Only a decade after emerging from the fastest genocide of the 20th Century, Rwanda, a small country in Eastern Central Africa,
has become one of the continent’s leaders in, and model on, bridging the digital divide through e-government. Rwanda has undergone a rapid turnaround from one of the most technologically deficient countries only a decade ago to a country
where legislative business is conducted online and wireless access to the Internet is available anywhere in the country. This is
puzzling when viewed against the limited progress made in other comparable developing countries, especially those located in the
same region, sub-Saharan Africa, where the structural and institutional constraints to e-government diffusion are similar.

E-services in South Africa

In the South African post-apartheid era, there continues to be high expectations of government in respect of improved delivery of service and of closer consultation with citizens. Such expectations are not unique to this country, and in this regard there is a need for governments to recognise that the implementation of e-government systems and e-services affords them the opportunity to enhance service delivery and good governance. The implementation of e-Government has been widely acclaimed in that it provides new impetus to deliver services quickly and efficiently (Evans & Yen, 2006:208). In recognition of these benefits, various arms of the South African government have embarked on a number of e-government programmes for example the Batho Pele portal, SARS e-filing, the e-Natis system, electronic processing of grant applications from remote sites, and a large number of departmental information websites. Also a number of well publicised e-government ventures such as the latter, analysts and researchers consider the state of e-government in South Africa to be at rudimentary stages. There are various factors
which collectively contribute to such an assessment. Amongst these, key factors relate to a lack of a clear strategy to facilitate uptake and adoption of e-government services as well as evaluation frameworks to assess expectations of citizens who are one of the primary user groups of these services.

E-services in Malaysia

E-Services is one of the pilot projects under the Electronic Government Flagship within the Multimedia Super Corridor ( MSC) initiative. With E-Services, one can now conduct transactions with Government agencies, such as the Road Transport Department (RTD) and private utility companies such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad ( TNB) and Telekom Malaysia Berhad ( TM) through various convenient channels such as the eServices kiosks and internet. No more queuing, traffic jams or bureaucratic hassles and one can now conduct transaction at one’s own convenience. Also, Electronic Labour Exchange ( ELX)is one stop-centre for labor market information, as supervised by the Ministry of Human Resource ( MOHR), to enable employers and job seekers to communicate on the same platform.

e-Syariah is the seventh project under the Electronic Government flagship application of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). A case management system that integrates the processes related to management of cases for the Syariah Courts.

Challenges to E-services in the Developing World

The future of e-service is bright but some challenges remain. There are some challenges in e-service, as Sheth & Sharma (2007) identify, are:
  • Low penetration of ICT especially in the developing countries;
  • Fraud
    Internet fraud
    Internet fraud refers to the use of Internet services to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme....

     on the internet space which is estimated around 2.8billion USD
  • Privacy
    Internet privacy
    Internet privacy involves the right or mandate of personal privacy concerning the storing, repurposing, providing to third-parties, and displaying of information pertaining to oneself via the Internet. Privacy can entail both Personally Identifying Information or non-PII information such as a...

     due the emergence of various types of spyware and security holes, and
  • intrusive characteristics of the service (e.g. mobile phones based) as customers may not like to be contacted with the service providers at any time and at any place.

The first challenge and primary obstacle to the e-service platform will be penetration of the internet. In some developing countries, the access to the internet is limited and speeds are also limited. In these cases firms and customers will continue to use traditional platforms. The second issue of concern is fraud on the internet. It is anticipated that the fraud on the e-commerce internet space costs $2.8 billion. Possibility of fraud will continue to reduce the utilization of the internet. The third issue is of privacy. Due to both spyware and security holes in operating systems, there is concern that the transactions that consumers undertake have privacy limitations. For example, by stealthily following online activities, firms can develop fairly accurate descriptions of customer profiles. Possibility of privacy violations will reduce the utilizations of the internet. The final issue is that e-service can also become intrusive as they reduce time and location barriers of other forms of contract. For example, firms can contact people through mobile devices at any time and at any place. Customers do not take like the intrusive behavior and may not use the e-service platform. (Heiner and lyer, 2007)

Major E-service Keywords

A considerable amount of research efforts already exists on the subject matter exploring different aspects of e-service and e-service delivery ; one worth noting effort is Rowley’s study (2006) who did a review study on the e-service literature. The key finding of his study is that there is need to explore dimensions of e-service delivery not focusing only on service quality “In order to understand e-service experiences it is necessary to go beyond studies of e-service quality dimensions and to also take into account the inherent characteristics of e-service delivery and the factors that differentiate one service experience from another.”

Some of the major keywords of e-service as found in the e-government research are as follows:


User acceptance of technology is defined according to Morris (1996, referred by Wu 2005, p. 1) as “the demonstrable willingness within a user group to employ information technology for the tasks it is designed to support”. This definition can be brought into the context of e-service where acceptance can be defined as the users’ willingness to use e-service or the willingness to decide when and how to use the e-service.


Users’ ability to access to the e-service is important theme in the previous literature. For example, Huang (2003) finds that most of the websites in general fail to serve users with disabilities. Recommendation to improve accessibility is evident in previous literature including Jaeger (2006) who suggests the following to improve e-services’ accessibility like: design for accessibility from the outset of website development, Involve users with disabilities in the testing of the site …Focus on the benefits of an accessible Web site to all users.

Administrative literacy

According to Grönlund et al. (2007), for a simple e-service, the needs for knowledge and skills, content and procedures are considerably less. However, in complicated services there are needed to change some prevailed skills, such as replacing verbal skills with skill in searching for information online.


This theme is concerned with establishing standards for measuring e-services or the best practices within the field. This theme also includes the international benchmarking of e-government services (UN reports, EU reports); much critic has been targeting these reports being incomprehensive and useless. According Bannister (2007) “… benchmarks are not a reliable tool for measuring real e-government progress. Furthermore, if they are poorly designed, they risk distorting government policies as countries may chase the benchmark rather than looking at real local and national needs”

Digital divide

Digital divide
Digital divide
The Digital Divide refers to inequalities between individuals, households, business, and geographic areas at different socioeconomic levels in access to information and communication technologies and Internet connectivity and in the knowledge and skills needed to effectively use the information...

 is considered one of the main barriers to implementing e-services; some people do not have means to access the e-services and some others do not know how to use the technology (or the e-service). According to Helbig et al. (2009), “we suggest E-Government and the digital divide should be seen as complementary social phenomena (i.e., demand and supply). Moreover, a serious e-government digital divide is that services mostly used by social elites."


Most of the reports and the established criteria focus on assessing the services in terms of infrastructure and public policies ignoring the citizen participation or e-readiness
E-Readiness is the ability to use information and communication technologies to develop one's economy and to foster one's welfare.There are several benchmarking indices at the macro level, e.g., those calculated by the UNPAN, World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit etc.Because what appear on the...

. According to by Shalini (2009), “the results of the research project reveal that a high index may be only indicating that a country is e-ready in terms of ICT infrastructure and info-structure, institutions, policies, and political commitment, but it is a very poor measure of the e-readiness of citizens. To summarize the findings, it can be said that Mauritius is ready but the Mauritians are not”

``E-readiness, as the Economist Intelligence Unit defines, is the measure of a country’s ability to leverage digital channels for communication, commerce and government in order to further economic and social development. Implied in this measure is the extent to which the usage of communications devices and Internet services creates efficiencies for business and citizens, and the extent to which this usage is leveraged in the development of information and communications technology (ICT) industries. In general terms, the definition of e-readiness is relative,for instance depending on a country in question's priorities and perspective.


As opposed to effectiveness, efficiency is focused on the internal competence within the government departments when delivering e-services. There is a complaint that researchers focus more on effectiveness “There is an emerging trend seemingly moving away from the efficiency target and focusing on users and governance outcome. While the latter is worthwhile, efficiency must still remain a key priority for eGovernment given the budget constraints compounded in the future by the costs of an ageing population. Moreover, efficiency gains are those that can be most likely proven empirically through robust methodologies”


Security is the most important challenge that faces the implementation of e-services because without a guarantee of privacy and security citizens will not be willing to take up e-government services. These security concerns, such as hacker attacks and the theft of credit card information, make governments hesitant to provide public online services. According to the GAO report of 2002 “security concerns present one of the toughest challenges to extending the reach of e-government.The rash of hacker attacks, Web page defacing, and credit card information being posted on electronic bulletin boards can make many federal agency officials—as well as the general public—reluctant to conduct sensitive government transactions involving personal or financial data over the Internet.” By and Large, Security is one of the major challenges that faces the implementation and development of electronic services. people want to be assured that they are safe when they are conducting online services and that their information will remain secure and confidential


Axelsson et al. (2009) argue that the stakeholder concept-which was originally used in private firms-, can be used in public setting and in the context of e-government. According to them, several scholars have discussed the use of the stakeholder theory
Stakeholder theory
The stakeholder theory is a theory of organizational management and business ethics that addresses morals and values in managing an organization. It was originally detailed by R...

 in public settings. The stakeholder theory suggests that need to focus on all the involved stakeholder s when designing the e-service; not only on the government and citizens.


Compared to Accessibility, There is sufficient literature that addresses the issue of usability; researchers have developed different models and methods to measure the usability and effectiveness of eGovernment websites. However, But still there is call to improve these measures and make it more compressive

``The word usability has cropped up a few times already in this unit. In the context of biometric identification, usability referred to the smoothness of enrollment and other tasks associated with setting up an identification system. A system that produced few false matches during enrollment of applicants was described as usable. Another meaning of usability is related to the ease of use of an interface. Although this meaning of the term is often used in the context of computer interfaces, there is no reason to confine it to computers.´´

Social, Cultural and Ethical Implications of E-services

The perceived effectiveness of e-Service can be influenced by public’s view of the social and cultural implications of e-Technologies and e-Service.

Impacts on Individuals’ Rights and Privacy – as more and more companies and government agencies use technology to collect, store, and make accessible data on individuals, privacy concerns have grown. Some companies monitor their employees' computer usage patterns in order to assess individual or workgroup performance. Technological advancements are also making it much easier for businesses, government and other individuals to obtain a great deal of information about an individual without their knowledge. There is a growing concern that access to a wide range of information can be dangerous within politically corrupt government agencies.

Impact on Jobs and Workplaces - in the early days of computers, management scientists anticipated that computers would replace human decision-makers. However, despite significant technological advances, this prediction is no longer a mainstream concern. At the current time, one of the concerns associated with computer usage in any organization (including governments) is the health risk – such as injuries related to working continuously on a computer keyboard. Government agencies are expected to work with regulatory groups in order to avoid these problems.

Potential Impacts on Society – despite some economic benefits of ICT to individuals, there is evidence that the computer literacy and access gap between the haves and have-nots may be increasing. Education and information access are more than ever the keys to economic prosperity, yet access by individuals in different countries is not equal - this social inequity has become known as the digital divide.

Impact on Social Interaction – advancements in ICT and e-Technology solutions have enabled many government functions to become automated and information to be made available online. This is a concern to those who place a high value on social interaction.

Information Security - technological advancements allow government agencies to collect, store and make data available online to individuals and organizations. Citizens and businesses expect to be allowed to access data in a flexible manner (at any time and from any location). Meeting these expectations comes at a price to government agencies where it concerns managing information – more specifically, ease of access; data integrity and accuracy; capacity planning to ensure the timely delivery of data to remote (possibly mobile) sites; and managing the security of corporate and public information.

E-service Awards

The benefits of e-services in advancing businesses efficiency and in promoting good governance are huge; recognizing the importance of these benefits has resulted in number of international awards that are dedicated to recognize the best designed e-services. In the section, we will provide description of some international awards

Best Online E-service in Europe

European eGovernment Awards program started 2003 to recognize the best online public service in Europe. The aim of Awards is to encourage the deployment of e-services and to bring the attention to best practices in the field. The winners of the European eGovernment Awards were announced in the award ceremony that took place at the 5th Ministerial eGovernment Conference on 19 November 2009 (Sweden); the winners in their respective categories are:
  • Category 1. eGovernment supporting the Single Market: EU-OPA, the European Order for Payment Application ( Austria and  Germany)
  • Category 2a. eGovernment empowering citizens: Genvej ( Denmark)
  • Category 2b. eGovernment empowering businesses: MEPA, the Public Administration eMarketplace ( Italy)
  • Category 3. eGovernment enabling administrative efficiency and effectiveness: Licensing of Hunters via the “Multibanco” ATM Network ( Portugal)
  • Public prize: SMS Information System ( Turkey)

Other Awards

Sultan Qaboos Award for excellence in eGovernance  Oman(Started 2009) The award has five categories: Best eContent, Best eService, Best eProject, eEconomy, eReadiness.

eGovernment Excellence Awards  Bahrain(Started 2007) The program has three categories: Government Awards: Best eContent, Best eService, Best eProject, eEconomy, eEducation, eMaturity Business Awards: Best ICT solution Provider, eEconomy,eEducation Citizen Awards: Best eContent, eCitizen.

Philippines e-Service Awards  Philippines(Started 2001) Categories: Outstanding Client Application of the Year, Outstanding Customer Application of the year, Groundbreaking Technology of the Year, Most Progressive Homegrown Company of the Year.

Major Journals focusing on E-services

There are some journals particularly interested for “e-Service “. Some of these are:

Major conferences focusing on E-services

Major conferences considering E-service as one of the themes are:

See also

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.