As Australia’s economy transitions from a reliance on resources towards a greater service economy there is a focus on Australia’s investment in digital skills and infrastructure.
Following last night’s Federal Budget, there has been discussion as to what changes will support small businesses into the digital future.
The announcement of the National Innovation and Science Agenda last December was a pivotal moment for Australia’s digital future, said Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) president Anthony Wong, and seeing the funding confirmed in last night’s budget delivers certainty and ensures these initiatives will help build a strong platform for Australia’s future.
“With the growth of innovation and entrepreneurism we are seeing many more small businesses entering the market, and the changes announced in the budget will no doubt be welcomed by many. It is important that we create an environment that encourages innovation and this reform is a part of that,” said Wong.
What does this mean for small business retailers?
Retailers are now starting to realise that they need to invest for the long term and focusing on the digital retailing space will help them move into the digital future. Small businesses need to constantly adapt to the changing technology and behaviours of their consumers. There will be more opportunities for clever retailers that tap into online markets and digital channels but they will need to equipment themselves with more marketing, tech and data skills.
Jason Titman from Neto E-commerce Solutions believes that getting a short term win from the budget is great but if small businesses want to be relevant and have a profitable business in the next 5 years they’ve really got to start getting on board and need the Government’s support in investing for the long term by focusing on global online retail markets.
“Many bricks and mortar stores have ventured into online years ago, but they need to focus on modernising their offerings,” said Titman.
He wants to see more small businesses beginning to develop into the digital markets but believes it will take time.
“It’s fine for the government to talk about innovation but that’s step one. It’s a bit like the wine industry. Everyone sees the success of Barossa and Margaret River but that took time and that took investment and government support and now it’s a world class industry. The same thing holds true for the tech space and the online space in Australia and it needs to move beyond just government rhetoric.”
As the Government aims to build a strong digital economy, there will be greater discussion surrounding education and training to help the current workforce and small businesses acquire the technological and digital skills they need to capitalise and grow.
“There is plenty of talk (and advertising dollars being spent) on driving innovation, STEM education and an #ideasboom, however there are no initiatives by the Government to develop tangible digital and data skills. These skills are critical to ensuring we have a workforce that is able to deliver on the requirements of the digital future and fill these critical job roles. Without such training, opportunities will pass everyday Australians by, and leave Australia lagging on the global stage,” explained Jodie Sangster, CEO at ADMA.