A new report launched today reveals that over 40 per cent of Australian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) believe that adopting smart technology to improve business efficiency will have the biggest impact on their business in the next three years.
31 percent are struggling to keep pace with technology changes critical to their business success.
As businesses across Australia continue to embrace remote working and run their enterprises from home, the importance of reliable connectivity and technology to business agility has never been more important.
The Optus and Venture Insights Connectivity Report 2020 surveyed the big business drivers of the economy, SMBs and found that many are failing to grasp the opportunities offered by new technologies (39 percent).
Over a third (40 per cent) admitted they are not actively protecting their business from cyber-attacks.
The survey also showed that Australian SMBs are so reliant on fast and dependable connectivity, that over one third (36 per cent) believe advances in broadband and mobile services such as 5G will have a big impact on their business.
Almost half (47 per cent) identified having faster download and upload speeds would benefit their business.
Optus Managing Director of SMB, Libby Roy, said with over 2 million Australian SMBs, the research clearly shows that business connectivity is critical to drive economic resilience and prosperity.
“Poor connectivity can leave businesses in a digital hole. By adopting the latest digital and connectivity tools available today, SMBs can be better equipped to make their business more productive and successful.
The power of 5G is also an untapped opportunity for many SMBs to have digital at their core transforming the way they work and operate.”
Connectivity and 5G
The report also revealed that improvements in network speeds and performance will be important in helping businesses increase their efficiency and productivity, with many companies looking to 5G to unlock opportunities.
62 per cent of SMBs 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.
When it comes to their network performance, 83 per cent said speed was their top priority, ahead of data allowance or price.
Nigel Pugh, Managing Director at Venture Insights, said: “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.
“With SMBs as the engine room of the Aussie economy, their continued success and digitisation are critical for the nation.”
Lack of education and training
One of the biggest barriers currently preventing SMBs from digitising includes the lack of investment in specialist digital tools, training and knowledge.
The top two factors that would help them adopt new technologies are a clear understanding of the benefits (42 per cent) and greater internal skills and training (39 per cent).
Optus Managing Director of SMB, Libby Roy, added: “This report shows over half of SMBs do not fully understand the benefits that fast, reliable connectivity and 5G could bring to their business.
There is a clear opportunity to educate and support SMBs 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.”
A third of Australian SMBs 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, causing them to be vulnerable and potential easy targets.
13 per cent of SMBs surveyed said their business has been a victim of a cyber-attack, with only a quarter of survey respondents saying they provide their staff with the necessary cybersecurity training to detect phishing attacks and protect against social engineering attacks.