More than half of Australian SMEs not using digital tools

The majority of Australia’s small businesses are dismissive or tentative about using digital technologies to assist their business, according to a new ANZ report released recently.

“The Digital Economy: Transforming Australian Businesses” found 56 per cent of micro, small and medium businesses (SMEs) did not value digital tools, despite the report finding they offer significant time savings and revenue benefits. The same businesses also lacked internal capabilities needed to use digital tools effectively and had the lowest revenues earned per employee.

ANZ’s General Manager of Small Business Banking, Guy Mendelson said, “Our research highlights that while business owners understand digital solutions can provide a range of benefits, many are yet to establish a well-defined digital strategy that will eventually become standard for doing business in Australia.”

He added, “A digital strategy becomes even more critical when considering that digitally-enabled businesses save an average of about 10 hours a week and subsequently increase annual revenue by almost a third. Collectively, the sector has the potential to boost revenue by a total of $385 billion per year
and save 22 million hours of effort per week.” Mendelsohn noted that these savings are significant and show the importance of effectively using digital solutions to drive business performance.

The report also highlighted cyber-security as a key issue, with 55 per cent of businesses having little or no knowledge about cyber-attacks. Cyber-security knowledge is also lowest when a company begins, with 71 per cent of start-ups knowing nothing about it.

“As businesses become more established so does their understanding of cyber-security issues, however it’s important for every business to be aware of the different types of cyber attacks such as business email compromise, which are growing at a significant rate,” Mendelson said.

In addition, the report highlighted the cost and not knowing where to start as the key impediments to digital adoption. “The focus for a business owner is on the day-to-day delivery and operations, and considering ‘what’s next?’ can be overwhelming and is often an after-thought, especially in terms of digital tools,” Mendelson noted.

“Business owners need additional support to help them overcome these challenges and to build a plan that ensures digital adoption is suitable, stable and sustainable over the long term,” Mendelson added.

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