A new Deloitte Access Economics report for Google highlights the benefits of increased digital engagement for Australian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).The Connected Small Businesses 2016 report finds that Australian SMBs having reached advanced levels of digital engagement, compared to those with basic engagement, are 1.5 times more likely to be growing revenue and eight times more likely to be creating jobs.
It additionally found that advanced level businesses are seven times more likely to be exporting than basic level businesses and 14 times more likely to be innovating.
Businesses with advanced levels of engagement are also earning 1.4 times more revenue per employee, while having a more diversified customer base, according to the report.
“There are significant benefits to be gained for SMBs with each step up the digital engagement ladder, and across all industries, sizes and geographies, with revenue growth almost 20 per cent higher for each upward step,” Deloitte states.
Based on a national survey of over 600 Australian SMBs, the report found that 23 per cent of SMBs are at a basic level of digital engagement, 34 per cent are at an intermediate level, 34 per cent are at a high level and 9 per cent are at an advanced level.
“SMBs are major contributors to the Australian economy,” Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony commented. “In 2014-15, they contributed $608 billion in GDP, representing over half of private sector economic activity, and employed more than 7.2 million people.
“Engaging with, investing in, and then keeping up with digital in an increasingly digital economy, opens up significant new opportunities for SMBs in terms of agility, competitive advantage, innovation and growth.
“But the digital landscape is also continually evolving as new technologies change existing markets, drive increased competition and shift consumer expectations. The goalposts when it comes to being highly digitally engaged continue to shift.”
O’Mahony noted that while, in areas such as social media, e-commerce, websites, online marketing tools and data analytics, SMBs are becoming more digitally capable, despite the benefits identified, “almost half of all SMBs at lower levels of engagement don’t regard digital tools as relevant for their business”.
“This suggests that there is still work to be done in helping some understand the value associated with increased digital engagement,” he commented.
“Our research shows that there can be a clear digital dividend for those businesses that get this right, and that there is significant risk for those that don’t.”