Aussie SMEs hampered by lack of tech skills

Advanced technology driving growth, tech-averse, tech tools, tech skills

New research reveals that while over 40 per cent of Australian SMEs believe that adopting smart technology to improve business efficiency will have the biggest impact on their business in the next three years, 31 per cent are still struggling to keep pace with such technology.

Just as worryingly, the The Optus and Venture Insights Connectivity Report 2020 noted that many SMEs are unable to harness opportunities offered by new technologies (39 per cent) and 40 per cent admitted that they haven’t been doing their part in protecting their business from cyber attacks.

Optus Managing Director of SMB, Libby Roy, said that the research showed that business connectivity is critical to drive economic resilience and prosperity for the two million plus SMEs in the country.

“Poor connectivity can leave businesses in a digital hole,” Roy said. “By adopting the latest digital and connectivity tools available today, SMEs can be better equipped to make their business more productive and successful. The power of 5G is also an untapped opportunity for many SMEs to have digital at their core transforming the way they work and operate.”

The survey also showed that one third (36 per cent) of SMEs believe that advances in broadband and mobile services such as 5G will have a big impact on their business and almost half (47 per cent) said their business will benefit from faster download and upload speeds. In particular, 62 per cent of SMEs said the arrival of the 5G network will be important for their business and 75 per cent said they would consider upgrading to 5G when it is available to them.

“Connectivity is more important than ever for businesses, whether it is for sustaining business operations remotely, connecting with customers anywhere, or efficient remote monitoring of assets and inventory,” Nigel Pugh, Managing Director at Venture Insights, said. “With SMEs as the engine room of the Aussie economy, their continued success and digitisation are critical for the nation.”

The research highlighted the biggest barriers preventing SMEs from going digital: the lack of investment in specialist digital tools, training, and knowledge. SMEs stated that it would help in adopting new technologies is a clear understanding of the benefits (42 per cent) and greater internal skills and training (39 per cent).

The report also found that a third of Australian SMEs surveyed cited cybersecurity as one of the top technology issues facing their business. Despite this, 40 per cent of respondents admitted that they do not take all the basic precautions to protect their businesses from cyber attacks. 13 per cent of SMEs surveyed said their business has been a victim of a cyber-attack and only a quarter said they provide their staff with the necessary cybersecurity training to detect phishing attacks and protect against social engineering attacks.

“This report shows over half of SMEs do not fully understand the benefits that fast, reliable connectivity and 5G could bring to their business,” Roy said. “There is a clear opportunity to educate and support SMEs to help them understand and take advantage of the benefits. Now is the time for businesses to prioritise digitisation and upskill their staff to improve their productivity and competitiveness, allowing them to not only survive, but thrive in the future as they recover from this exceptional period.”