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MYOB Business Monitor: Over 1/3 of SMEs miss out on digital economy benefits

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The latest report by MYOB Enterprise Solutions reveals at least a third of small to medium businesses are reducing their performance potential by overlooking significant opportunities offered by the digital economy.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor Report, based on a survey of 1,022 Australian SME owners and managers by research firm Colmar Brunton into online technology usage has found less than four in 10 (38%) having a business website; 12% of these operators also have a business social media site, and a further 8% only have a social media site. The proportion using social media in some way for business rose to 33%, up from 21%. 

Only 16% of SME businesses said they used cloud computing in business while accounting software usage was relatively stable at 64%, down from 67%. 

Business operators who utilised online technologies were more likely to see a revenue rise in the 12 months to August this year. Those with both a business website and a social media site (12%) were at least 63% more likely to see revenue rise than those who didn’t. SMEs using cloud computing were 59% more likely to see an annual revenue rise than non-cloud users. 

Business Division General Manager James Scollay says there is tremendous scope for Australian business operators to boost their financial performance, strengthen customer acquisition and retention, enjoy work environment flexibility and improve business productivity by using online technologies.

He explains businesses that use online technologies are increasingly outperforming their less tech savvy competitors, which is why it’s vital for government and business leaders to work together with the SME business community, sharing knowledge about the benefits of embracing the online world and supporting them on their journey. 

Half of the respondents in the survey did not have an online presence. Businesses using a website and social media say these efforts produce more customer enquiries or leads and greater sales conversions. Cloud users see benefits such as lower IT costs, access to more technology and increased ability to work remotely.  

Tech-savvy operators enjoy big business benefits

SMEs embracing online technology had a more positive revenue outlook with 39% of those who run both a website and social media site for their business expecting a revenue rise in the next 12 months, versus 22% of those without. 31% using cloud were expecting a rise, versus 24% of non-users. Similarly, 31% of those with business websites were expecting a revenue rise, versus 21% who didn’t. Among accounting software users, 26% were expecting a revenue rise, versus 21% without accounting software.

SMEs who use cloud computing, business websites, and/or accounting software said they had more work/sales than usual in their short-term pipeline compared to those who don’t use these tools. Although work-life balance satisfaction was similar for SMEs with or without an online presence, and with or without accounting software, cloud users were slightly more likely to be satisfied than non-users (57% versus 50%).

Top pain points have less impact on online-savvy operators 

Fuel price was the top pressure point for SMEs overall, and has been since March 2011, while cash flow and price margins and/or profitability tied for second. Business operators who embrace online technologies felt less pressure from fuel prices and cash flow but more from price margins and/or profitability compared to their peers.

SMEs’ top five reasons to use the cloud

Of the 16% of respondents that use cloud computing for business, the most popular reasons for cloud use were reduced IT costs, more access to technology and greater ability to work remotely (25% each), as well as increased productivity and opportunity to stay up to date with software and technology (23% each).

MYOB Business Monitor technology usage findings by industry, state, business tenure, business size and age group can be accessed on the MYOB website.

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