With speculation mounting that the Coalition will continue with the current rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) until the middle of next year, before determining its own completion strategy, the eyes of many small business owners are on the role that the NBN will continue to play in the Australian economy. With a strong and stable technology foundation essential for SMB growth and expansion, how the Government intends to drive the completion of the infrastructure build in the next year and beyond could mean the difference between success and failure for SMBs across the country.
Where SMBs stand on the NBN
We recently commissioned a national study of 441 executive managers and business owners of Australian companies – asking for their thoughts on the current NBN strategy and its impact on their business growth. While just over half (51%) are positive towards the infrastructure build, we found that more than a third (37%) of Australian businesses believe that the NBN will not make a positive difference to their business – in terms of supporting growth and productivity. This, in my opinion, is too many.
The plan for technological investment
Despite this lack of belief in the strength of the NBN in its current form, the SMB sector is forging ahead with its own plans for how to use technology to fuel growth.
We found that more than two thirds (70%) of businesses are choosing to focus on technology, over people power, to prompt business growth; investing in everything from new websites and social media strategies to cloud services and mobile devices.
This focus rings true to the idea that greater efficiency comes down to finding smarter ways to run your business, not just reducing overheads and cutting costs. Whether this is signing up to a virtual office service to give a constant presence, even when on the go, or accessing a strong IT infrastructure to help manage and organise their teams, technology is becoming key to establishing an immediate and professional appearance.
For newer businesses entering the market the virtual office can also be a great tool for increasing workplace productivity while minimising costs. A virtual office gives you immediate access to a premium office address, local phone number and dedicated receptionist as well as access to meeting rooms and work space as needed. Employees can work from home or from the client, saving you rent and allowing them flexibility, and yet you can still maintain that all important physical presence.
While technology plays a critical role in increasing productivity, real growth will come from taking advantage of that technology to service larger export markets, such as those in Asia. The Coalition Government needs to be able to help SMBs take advantage of these larger export markets.
One of the reasons we have invested in our own state of the art IT infrastructure at Servcorp is because we believe that cloud technology is a great way to help small Australian businesses get access to overseas marketplaces, which has historically been quite challenging, due to our geographical isolation. Coupled with fast broadband, the cloud is a real business enabler.
Cloud services offer businesses a level of consistency across different markets, which would be difficult to secure by other means. Our clients have access to a single phone system that runs across 22 countries, and they can bill their own clients, in their own market, in their own currency, using a single, cloud based billing service.
As businesses have been grappling with the global financial downturn for a while now, we need strong, decisive leadership around key policies, such as the NBN, for Australian business confidence to pick up and for owners and executive managers to take steps to drive growth.
The Australian, ‘Coalition to delay NBN laws until 2014’, 13/9/13: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/election-2013/coalition-to-delay-nbn-laws-until-2014/story-fn9qr68y-1226718041481
Servcorp Ltd (SRV:ASX), the world’s leading provider of executive serviced offices, virtual offices and superior IT and business infrastructure solutions, operates 132 floors in 52 cities across 21 countries. A multiple award winning Australian business, Servcorp is Australia’s second-largest exporter of services.
More than just an office, Servcorp’s serviced and virtual offices make it possible for businesses to succeed and grow. From SMEs to large global brands, Servcorp can help to establish your business and position your company for success – its premium serviced office suites offer unrivalled technology, services and support staff in the best locations across Australia and the rest of the world: as long as you want and for less than it costs to have a traditional office.
The Servcorp Australian Business Growth Monitor will be published every six months. The index will track business growth over time, looking at current and future performance, as well as the different factors both impacting and contributing to business growth among Australian companies. To download the report click here.