Advisory firm Grant Thornton states that Australian businesses need to improve their global digital competitiveness, and are at risk of “becoming uncompetitive and irrelevant if action isn’t taken”.Grant Thornton points to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016, released last week, which ranked Australia 18th, having last year been ranked 16th.
Grant Thornton places particular emphasis on Australian mid-size businesses, “the growth engine of the economy”, embracing new technology.
“We continue to move around the index, however it is now marked with continual decline, a far cry from 9th position in 2004,” Matthew Green, Grant Thornton Australia technology advisory partner, commented.
“Technology is neither an option, nor a hindrance – it’s a worthy ally on the path to growth, and Australian mid-size businesses must embrace digital disruption or risk being disrupted themselves.”
With Brexit signalling an opportunity for Australian fintechs, Grant Thornton states that it is now “the perfect opportunity, together with the government’s Science and Innovation Agenda, to embrace and grow digital competitiveness in Australia”.
Green stated that “government and businesses should embrace ICT even more enthusiastically”, developing Australia’s capacity for innovation, diversifying the economy and building resilience.
“We want to see effective policies that encourage mid-size businesses to innovate and invest in the use of ICT,” he commented. “As a nation, we need to set a goal of making the top 10 on the index by at least 2020. Critical to this is the government policy needed to support digital and technology initiatives, support for innovation and learning, encourage entrepreneurship and rewarding risk.
“From a future and sustainability perspective, this calls out the need to drive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in education even more than before.
“With additional policy support to encourage mid-size businesses to invest in embedding and leveraging digital technology as part of the core business strategy, we will begin to see a significant shift in businesses’ ability to survive and thrive in a constantly evolving business operating environment.”
Regarding digital investment, Grant Thornton states “focus on initiatives that accelerate business growth”:
-Digitise new customer experiences: think in the context of new digital customer experiences by looking beyond digitising existing customer channels.
– Enhance with analytics: data improves customer insight and business performance. Analytics is a key focus for mid-size business in planning, managing and engaging with customers.
– Integrate your digital investment into core business strategy: embed digital into operating models and develop digital skills for all aspects of internal operations, rather than just investing in new technologies simply to improve efficiencies.
– Take digital risk: open up to the use of new technologies and its possible application.
– Invest in revenue-generating mobile applications: e-commerce, customer engagement, supply chain integration and outsourcing applications enable mid-size businesses to compete head-to-head with larger businesses, while remaining agile and specialised to the customer.
– Minimise risk through cybersecurity: an ever-present consideration given the increased reliance on technology and level of connectedness. Minimise impacts to business reputation and bottom line by securing data.
– Invest in customer and service technology: embrace technology to reduce service costs and deliver a better consumer experience that delivers higher-quality, more specialised services and products.