Tech investments fuelling resilience among Australian SMEs

AI, emerging technology, investments

New research reveals that Australian SMEs expect to increase their technology investments in the next financial year. According to Microsoft Australia’s EOFY Opportunity Survey, 79 per cent of SMEs believe technology has the potential to help grow their businesses in the next year, having played a significant role in saving their businesses over the past year. However, 38 per cent of our smaller businesses do not expect to increase their technology investments in the new financial year, citing a decline in their revenue and the end of Job Keeper as their biggest barriers.

“The impact of the pandemic has no doubt challenged Australia’s small and medium businesses, with many forced to prioritise survival over innovation and growth, Jane Mackarell, Surface Business Group Lead at Microsoft Australia, said of the report’s findings. “As Australia’s businesses recover from the year that was, this end of the financial year period provides an opportunity for SME leaders to consider the role technology can meaningfully play in the year ahead – from redefining the home office, to boosting employee engagement, performance, and culture.”

The report shows that over two-thirds of SME leaders, 70 per cent, believed that the events of 2020 made them more resilient, and 58 per cent said that their businesses as now being more innovative and fit for the future. And for 60 per cent of Australian SMEs, this experience has driven a sense of excitement and optimism for the financial year ahead.

While most SMEs report feeling optimistic about the year ahead, the survey also uncovered varying degrees of confidence when it came to hybrid work. Despite Microsoft’s recent Work Trend Index indicating 70 per cent of Australian workers want flexible remote work options to stay, the report found that 41 per cent of Australian SMEs do not intend to offer a hybrid work environment, while a further 11 per cent are still unsure. However, SME leaders who have embraced hybrid work with the help of new technologies are reaping huge benefits including improved employee experience and wellbeing (90 per cent), better connection with customers (90 per cent), enhanced collaboration (89 per cent), and improved security (91 per cent).

Awareness of incentives is an issue in tech adoption, with only 18 per cent of the 300 Australian SME leaders surveyed saying that they are across the tax incentives being offered this year by the Australian Government to all businesses with an annual turnover under $5 billion. This measure makes businesses in this bracket eligible for an immediate tax deduction for the full cost of new depreciable assets acquired, installed ready for use or already in use.

“Tax time has always offered SMEs an opportunity to reflect on their goals for the year ahead, with end of financial year providing a great time to take advantage of the best deals to make these ambitions a reality,” Mackerell said. “With the Australian Government’s newest tax incentives, it’s an important time for business leaders to consider how technology can help bring these aspirations to life and set themselves up for success in the new financial year.”