Australian businesses are hanging back in their uptake of new digital communication technologies, choosing caution over early adoption.
The results are detailed in a report for the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) conducted by GfK Australia and published earlier this month. The report draws on a range focus group discussions with SMEs, industry leaders and technology consultants.
The report was undertaken to provide an insight into the key drivers of and barriers preventing small businesses taking-up new digital communication technologies.
The results suggest the barriers revolve around return on investment concerns, doubts over the reliability of new innovations and confusion about new technologies due to an excess of information. The additional resourcing and staffing implications of some technologies like social media platforms have also deterred some smaller businesses from embracing change.
If business is going well, there is a strong tendency among SMEs not to splurge on new technologies that may not work or fail to provide a tangible benefit to the business. Engagement with tried and proven technologies is also far higher than engagement with new innovations like cloud based storage applications.
Many SMEs are also unaware of regulations governing digital communications technologies and the associated security risks of adopting such technologies.
The report found benefits to SMEs in taking-up new communications technologies so long as they served clear purposes and achieved improvements like providing greater customer reach, cost savings or better data management.
It suggested SMEs would benefit from targeted support to improve engagement with digital communications technologies and that relevant industry bodies and networks provide more information on the range of available options.
The report finds that SMEs feel the best way to make the most of available digital communication technologies is to study the behaviour of other successful businesses that have made successful adoptions.
Another solution proposed by various industry leaders is to provide a fact sheet with information on topics as simple as establishing a website, setting up a basic online retail function and developing a social media marketing strategy.