Monthly Archives: December 2013

The ‘Internet Advantage’ for SMEs

According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group a surprising number of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) worldwide are “leaving an enormous opportunity untapped”.

Across 11 of the G-20 countries, SMEs using high levels of digital technology have experienced revenue growth that was up to 22 percent higher than that achieved by SMEs with low or no use of the web over a three year period.

Sales at what BCG refer to as “high-web companies” increased six times as fast as revenues at firms with no internet presence. This is partly due to the fact high-web companies are twice as likely to have access to national or international customer bases outside of their local market.

The Boston Consulting group have highlighted five ‘levers’ that explain the advantages high-web SME’s receive that businesses in the Hume region may also capitalise on.

1. Geographic Expansion: The internet creates a borderless world for many SME’s, enabling them to compete with much larger, multinational companies by accessing markets that were previously out of reach.

2. Enhanced Marketing: Online marketing delivers expanded reach and measurable returns. It also yields valuable data about consumers and their preferences, enabling targeted and personalised advertising and offers.

3. Improved Customer Interactions: Social media make it possible for companies to engage in real-time dialog with customers not only to boost sales but also to build loyalty and even to help create, refine and enhance products and services.

4. Leveraging The Cloud: SMEs can access sophisticated, often cloud-based, tools to enhance a wide range of functions, including customer relationship management, information management, and customer payments. As a result, these companies can grow quickly without requiring large investments in infrastructure.

5. Easier and Quicker Staff Recruitment: The recruiting options available today are more powerful and less expensive that ever before, and they enable SMEs to tap a global talent market.

So what’s stopping SME’s tapping into these under-utilised levers? Barriers are generally identified as poor access to technology, lack of capabilities, lack of resources and doubt over the potential returns.

The good news is that none of these levers are out of reach for the average Australian business. Almost all basic tools are available in a free format and there are countless resources to help you get them working for your business.

A great place to start is to take the digital diagnostic on this website (also available through www.digitaldiagnostic.net.au). THe diagnostic takes 5 minutes to complete and will highlight areas where you can start working on your business. The diagnostic tool then links to a series of resources to help you get started on the changes you need to make.

 

 

Marketing Digital Hume

The fifth and final strategic focus area for Digital Hume is Marketing Digital Hume, aiming to strengthen the region’s branding and identity as a forward-looking and connected ‘smart region’. Digital Hume will promote a great environment and a diverse, modern economy that is attractive to current and future investors and communities.

There are now many communities across Australia making the transition to digital technologies and creating innovative ways to put their community on the map. One such example is the community development organisation All We Need is Right Here in the Shire of Kalamunda.

All We Need is Right Here have built a comprehensive community connection website, providing a range of ways for members of the community to connect with people, organisations, culture, business and local assets.

The platform utilises digital networks to facilitate the use and appreciation of resources already at the disposal of the community. The relationship is shown below (taken from www.allweneedisrighthere.org)

www.allweneedisrighthere.org

The site allows individuals to make their own profiles, possesses an interests directory, clubs and organisations directory and an online market place. Community members can even post their own news and stories.

Project Officer, Maria D’Souza says “the aim of the website is to make visible all the amazing assets we have in the Shire of Kalamunda and to connect people around those assets”.

Whether it be on a designated community site or simply a collection of online networks like social media, all communities, including Hume, can use the digital economy to connect and strengthen their networks. This in turn will provide a more unified and productive place to live and put Hume on the map.

Below are a list of online resources available through this project to help you stay connected with the Hume region and its progress in the digital economy: