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Small and medium businesses embrace digital disruption


It’s no secret that businesses can really skyrocket with digital technology.

According to a new survey, the top small and medium businesses certainly know that it could improve productivity, customer service and profit.

We’re not just talking about greater brand recognition from online presence and social media (though that’s always a big plus) but how digital disruption really puts actual money on the table. The survey of Australia’s top small and medium businesses has shown that 48 per cent reported profit increases as a result of adopting new technologies such as cloud, mobility devices and social media.

Show me the numbers

The survey polled 172 state and territory winners and finalists of the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards ahead of the national finals held in Melbourne on 7 August.

78 per cent of businesses reported improvements to customer service capabilities as a result of using digital tools. 77 per cent use cloud computing to set up more flexible virtual offices and collaborate remotely, and 41 per cent have lowered their operating costs.

The survey also found that social media investment has become the norm, with 84 per cent of businesses using Facebook and 62 per cent of businesses using LinkedIn to attract and retain customers and enter new markets.

In fact, a fifth of respondents credit more than 10 per cent of their total annual sales to their social media activity.

Digital disruption means pushing the boundaries

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Telstra Business Awards Ambassador, says these businesses are realising the wealth of opportunities presented by digital disruption, embracing new technologies and turning traditional business models upside down.

“The rise of the digital economy has significantly changed the way we do business, but with this change comes extraordinary opportunity. Our Telstra Business Awards finalists are not afraid to try something new, and harness technology to find a competitive advantage.”

“The Telstra Business Awards entrepreneurs are using digital innovation to push the boundaries and come up with new ideas to grow their customer base and rethink entire industry models,” Irving said.

Take, for example, Instrument Choice.com.au, listed as Synotronics when it won the 2013 Telstra SA Micro Business Award. Going against conventional thought that testing equipment can only be sold face-to-face, founder Tyson Grubb leapt at the chance to use digital technology to get a break on competitors. According to Grubb, the growth of the company came from harnessing the power of the internet and giving good-old prompt service.

Pushing the boundaries could also literally mean expanding your geographical reach.

Specialist cheese and agri-tourism business and winner of the 2013 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, Bruny Island Cheese Co., began driving down the digital road when visiting tourists asked where they could buy the products at home. Managing Director Nick Haddow said, “Our online sales now make up 60 per cent of our revenue and have enabled us to prosper in geographic isolation.”

The 2014 Awards

Thirty-seven national finalists competed in categories for Start-Up Business, Micro Business, Small Business, Medium Business, Regional Business and the prestigious title of Telstra Australian Business of the Year.

Winners of the 2014 Awards will share in more than $800,000 in cash and business products, which is split among state, territory and national winners.

For more information about the Awards winners, or to nominate for the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit telstrabusinessawards.com