Hunter businesses joining digital economy
While investing in information and communication technology is no guarantee of improving your business outcomes, failing to invest in your online presence is almost certainly investing in failure.
At Hunter Research Foundation (HRF), we have been investigating household and businesses’ use of information and communication technology since 2000 and for several years have been encouraging local businesses to engage more fully with the burgeoning digital economy.
Up to this year our annual survey has shown Hunter businesses lagging their national counterparts in doing business online. In 2014, just 57 per cent of Hunter businesses able to access the internet had a dedicated website, lower than the national figure for small businesses (64%).
This year is better, with the June 2015 results showing a significant jump in the number of internet-connected regional businesses with a dedicated website – up to 71 per cent, which brings the Hunter into line with the national figures.
More Hunter businesses are adopting smart phones, notebooks and laptops to engage their customers in 2015 and a higher proportion are now advertising and taking orders online.
Half of the Hunter businesses surveyed this year were using social media to market their businesses, with this rate exceeding the national average for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
While the results are better in 2015, we need to see the figures continue to trend upward.
National research indicates that digitally-engaged SMEs are more likely to be growing revenue, hiring staff and to have further plans to increase spending in ICT over the coming year.
If you, like some of our survey respondents, feel you don’t have the time or resources in your business to engage online, you don’t need to go it alone, with a growing number of businesses and consultants able to assist you to develop an achievable digital strategy. Consider it an investment in your future success rather than an expense.
Anthea Bill is a Senior Researcher for HRF and author of 2015 Hunter Region Businesses and Digital Technology report. Visit www.hrf.com.au to subscribe to see the full results