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Pandemic propels SME digitalisation in New Zealand

The experience that COVID-19 brought, remote/online transactions and the ease of doing business and the risk of falling behind others in their industry have driven an increased uptake of digital tools by New Zealand SMEs, according to the latest research by a business management platform.

The research revealed that three out of five SMEs are conducting more than 50% of their business using digital tools, technology, and software, while just 18% have less than a quarter of their business digitised. The key operational areas being digitised include accounting and finances (66%), staff communication (52%), and administration and customer services (45%).

The business management platform says it is promising to see local SMEs recognise the positive impact digital adoption can have on their business operations and that many are moving rapidly to take advantage of the latest digital solutions. Across a broad spectrum of business. From productivity and efficiency to improved communication with customers and employees, they know first-hand that digitisation can have a profound and positive impact on New Zealand’s SMEs. If the past 12 months have shown us anything, it is that technology plays a critical role in the survival and success of a business.

Now, more SMEs are moving to digitise operations after recognising benefits like the ability to reduce business complexity (41%) or having had the experience of falling behind industry peers who had digitised (26%). Aside from the pandemic, competition is also a massive catalyst for change and these insights prove just how strong-a push this can be.

Furthermore, these findings revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of SMEs have an internal team dedicated to running regular digital training sessions for employees, while almost the same number (23%) use external providers to help upskill their teams.

However, more than a third (38%) of those who did not plan to improve the digitalisation of their business would be incentivised to do so by the availability of free support and training, and a similar proportion (37%) of this group said the same of Government subsidies or rebates covering a portion of the cost of new digital solutions.

While many of the changes made by local SMEs have been borne out of necessity, what is extremely positive is that the country is seeing an increased urge to digitise and this will certainly result in more New Zealand small businesses becoming more efficient, more productive, and more resilient. Thus, setting them up for much more competitive performance in the future, said the report.

Accordingly, as reported by OpenGov Asia, The New Zealand government is taking steps to protect and encourage small businesses from a tech perspective. Small businesses will now benefit from a government-funded Digital Boost skills training and support initiative.

This programme is delivering on the Government’s vision for New Zealand small businesses to be the most digitally-enabled in the world. 2021 will be the year of digital transformation for thousands of Kiwi small businesses, said the General Manager for Small Business and Strategic Programmes.

The Digital Boost skills training is the first initiative to be launched from the Digital Boost programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the private sector to support thousands of small businesses in realising the benefits of using digital tools and technologies in their business.

The Small Business Digital Boost initiative will support more small business owners to realise the benefits of digitising their business. The programme aims to ensure small businesses acquire the right digital skills and online tools to help their business survive and thrive. To deliver the training and support, MBIE collaborated with a market partner who has extensive experience in helping business owners develop the capabilities needed to take advantage of the rapidly changing digital environment.

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