The Great Digital Divide Part II

In the next installment from my previous article, I want to talk further on why accepting changes and innovations in online and technology are so vital to business success. Technology, the internet and all aspects of digital have brought global citizens and global companies closer together than ever before. Australian consumers believe that if an experience, product or service can be had overseas, why can’t that happen for them here? As business owners, your competitors are not simply restricted to those within a close geographical location, but you are being compared to those in your industry globally. As the enormity of that statement sinks in, and when you think about the fact that Australian businesses are still failing to implement fundamental basics such as website navigation, having a social media presence, or simply having a website, the expectations of Australian consumers are being woefully let down.

The only way to get Australian businesses up to speed with these expectations will be for a change in perception and attitude from business owners. We’re always moaning that our governments are short-term thinking policy makers and that they can’t see beyond the next election date. Sadly, business owners are suffering from this same short-sightedness. If they don’t act now and embrace digital, they will lose customers. The State of the Nation report states that 45% of consumers say that companies which fail to offer a high quality digital experience run the risk of losing them as a customer. At the top of the list of Australian consumer digital needs, safe and secure transactions ranked at 85% for ‘very important’ and 97% for ‘very/fairly important’.

Lack of education and knowledge are also barriers to Australian businesses taking up digital technology. For the purpose of streamlining arduous processes, technology and digital platforms have been designed to cut costs and reduce time spent on tasks for the benefit of SMEs. However, as reported in a Smart Company article, a 2014 report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that there is a “lack of urgency to change” amongst business owners, and that “they are deliberately choosing to be late adopter in fear of wasting money and resources”. At the opposite end of the spectrum and on the other side of the business equation as a consumer, Ernst & Young report that Australians are spending on average 10 hours and 24 minutes on internet-connected devices every day! The disparities here at mind boggling. To overcome this small business owners need to move beyond their fear of change (and cost) and learn to embrace technology for the long-term success of their business.


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