Paralysis over as businesses go digital with confidence
At CCIQ, we’ve recently released the findings from the 2016 CCIQ Microsoft Digital Readiness Study.
Now in its 4th year, this annual research piece is intended to provide an overview of the thoughts, intentions, concerns and successes of small businesses across the state as they get to grips with the digitally driven economy.
If I was going to sum up this year’s findings in a tweet it would be:
Paralysis over. Businesses optimistic for digital future, but need to know the dollars make sense. #SmallBiz
And that really is the core theme that businesses have told us this year. Across the majority of metrics, the digital adoption and implementation of strategies and tactics are being applied with greater confidence and certainty than before, but as businesses take further steps into the digital world they want to know that their efforts and their expenditure will deliver a clear return on investment for their business.
It’s a given that business need to be online and 90% of our respondents have a dedicated web presence with almost ¾ declaring it essential for their business.
59% of businesses have realised the sense in building mobile friendly websites - a huge increase up from just 10% last year – and with google reporting that more searched are now being made on mobile devices than desktops –customers will want to find what they need wherever they are and whenever they want.
This year we asked specific questions around the cloud as in small business circles it is the buzzword of the moment.
What we are seeing is that businesses are beginning to embrace the options relating to cloud computing. With the NBN being seen as a good investment and a game changer for small businesses the migration to applications, storage and services will only increase as businesses benefit from the accessibility and mobility the cloud offers coupled with the improvements in connectivity the NBN should bring.
However NBN Co really need to get their act together in relation to communication with 40% of businesses not knowing when they NBN will be rolled out to them.
Business Protection & Recovery
In a state where nature unleashes fury almost every year it is really alarming to see that businesses are not adopting a business recover plan.
If we cast out mind back to any of the floods or cyclones from recent years there are always images of small business owners carrying laptops through flooded towns, or businesses and their equipment under half a metre of water.
From our research at CCIQ we know that such events can and do directly impact businesses for around 6 months cruelling revenue, supply chains, customer networks and more.
A business recover plan can’t prevent disasters, but it can get you back up and running quickly and with far less impact to your business.
In terms of software, our friends at Microsoft are the clear market leaders, with businesses relying upon the office suite in particular to drive their day-to-day operations.
We then have a tranche of accountancy software packages that run across two thirds of businesses before we move to a tier of industry specific software, design packages etc.
Underpinning just about everything is the ubiquitous use of email. So when businesses talk about email free days, banning emails etc….it’s probably best to take it with a pinch of salt as the evidence suggests otherwise.
As such businesses have invested in Email protection as they report that attacks from spam or phishing are regular and high risk and at least a quarter are reviewing their email security to give themselves peace of mind.
Technology & Support
With 60% of businesses having tech that is 2+ years old it makes sense that 50% of them are looking to invest in the next 12 months.
However they want to be convinced about the return that they will get and the gains in productivity, connectivity or dollars that any investment will make.
They are therefore very pragmatic about their choices and the vendors that they want to engage, with reputation, services and support all being ahead of price when making a procurement decision.
If they can’t find a supplier that can convince them that their investment will yield a return, then they will be like the 43% of businesses who simply make do.
Devices & Hardware
Across the board there really has been a smart device revolution in Queensland businesses that is fueling permanent connectivity, flexible working and making remote working far simpler than ever before.
With the rise in Cloud computing, proliferation of software-as-a-service models such as Microsoft 365, and exciting new collaboration tools coming into the market, the benefits are very real for Queensland businesses that make the effort to use technology to better manage their business operations. As such businesses are enabling remote workers to access more and more of the systems that they need to be able to do their jobs.
Data is a pot of gold for small business.
Existing customers are more likely to buy from you. The cost of acquisition of new customers is significantly more than retaining old and you can use your data to drive insights for your business. For many businesses their data is the most valuable asset that they own.
So it is interesting to see that only 30% of businesses are using a dedicated CRM. You would hope that there are at least digital records of customer behaviour, contacts and history and businesses are not relying on post-it notes, diaries or paper ledgers.
Digital Marketing & Social Media
Businesses are investing time, resources, effort and energy in growing their brand presence through social media channels with Facebook being the top of the heap.
60% are advertising online across AdWords, Facebook, SEO and traditional banners style ads, with the targeting, flexibility and low cost of entry ticking many boxes for businesses.
However businesses are not supporting their activity with a clear digital marketing plan, and whilst we can debate the chicken and the egg in this scenario, having a plan and measuring your successes and failures is vitally important.
Staff and Resources
Queensland businesses owners and managers are a trusting bunch.
Unrestricted access to the internet and a clear belief that staff will do the right thing when online at work is to be applauded. This approach enables staff to become familiar with emerging channels, to understand services and products and to become increasingly digitally native.
However an area of consideration for businesses is the boundaries between the work and play, particularly across social media and how to respond if those worlds collide. Thought should be given to policies that protect workers and employers in the event that an issue on social media occurs.
What Does it Mean?
Compared to the last 3 years, this report feels far more optimistic than before.
- Year 1 highlighted a disconnect between small businesses and the ICT industry.
- Years 2 & 3 saw a paralysis as small businesses adopted a wait and see approach to a rapidly changing world.
- This year we are seeing confident optimism.
Businesses have greater confidence, have made wise investment decisions and are looking to invest pragmatically in the future.
They are confident that the NBN, social media and cloud based technology will improve the way that they do business and open up new areas of opportunity.
Sure there are areas where businesses need to consider taking additional steps to help protect their business or plan their activity. But on the whole we’re heading in the right direction.