Australian businesses urged to move online


Tuesday, 02 April, 2013


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The IT industry has once again called for Australian businesses to move online, warning that they risk getting left behind by their more innovative competitors.

The sentiment is not new - over the last few years, various commentators have repeatedly urged Australian companies to investigate the potential benefits of moving their business online.

This time, the message comes from IBM ANZ’s managing director, Andrew Stevens, speaking about “digital business transformation” at an ACS Foundation event.

Stevens had a lot to say on the topic, but the crux of his message was: new technologies will change how businesses have to operate. Those that ignore this change risk being left behind.

Of course, as the MD of a tech company - one that’s always trying to sell products to new customers - Stevens has a vested interest in pushing this message.

But there is truth in his words. Just look to the previously stable industries of retail and media, which the internet has greatly upset in the last 10 years. Bricks and mortar retail stores (see Gerry Harvey) persistently complain about how hard it is to make a dollar when so many customers are favouring online stores, which have lower overheads to deal with.

Similarly, in media, many broadcast and print companies are finding it hard to adapt to a digital world. Readers are moving online, while a new generation of viewers turns away from television and towards web-based video for entertainment.

“Whether you know it or not, your business is at a digital decision point. This is the year to harness new digital ways to do business and to reconnect with partners and customers,” Stevens said.

Professional services, healthcare and education are the industries that need to move quickly, he said. Transport, administration services, mining or utilities have more time to make changes.

“Look around your business and that of your partners. Survey your customers. How can you improve or innovate? What must you do to start a process of digital transformation in your business? Could you change how you sell? Can what you sell be digitised?” he asked.

Stevens had more advice for Australian businesses - see this link for more details.

Now, making such sweeping changes to your business is a potentially gargantuan undertaking.  But the sooner you start asking these questions, the better off you’ll be.

Fortunately, there is some low-hanging fruit that’s freely available.

MYOB, for one, has a service that provides free websites to Australian businesses. The tool offers a .com.au domain name, 25 email addresses, integrated e-commerce and website traffic statistics. It’s free for one year and $5-$15 in the second year. Check it out here.

The federal government also has its Digitalbusiness website, which offers information and tips on various aspects of taking your business online, including creating a website and e-commerce.

Got any other resources that you use or that have helped you? Let us know - we’re building a community repository of useful tools and websites for Australian businesses and will share the results with our readers.

Image credit ©iStockphoto.com/Anna Rzepkowska

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