Small Business Minister Stuart Nash launched the Digital Boost Alliance on Tuesday. Thursday a report from the productivity committee explained to us why companies need a digital camera in the arm.

the Digital Boost Alliance is a group of 20 companies. It was put together by Craig Young who runs Tuanz.

There are multinationals like Microsoft and AWS in the mix. You would expect this.

Business support

The local alliance companies are more interesting.

Money, an important part of the digital equation, is represented here by the top five banks. Next are the local tech companies: Datacom, Xero and, if we accept Australia as local, MYOB.

The New Zealand telecommunications sector is represented by Spark, 2degrees and Chorus. Vodafone is a notable non-starter.

CertNZ and MBIE are part of the mix. The same goes for The Warehouse. While founder Sir Stephen Tindall is a strong personal supporter of initiatives like this, the Warehouse Group sells a lot of technology and support products to small businesses.

Mindlab is a member. It hosted the launch event.

Access and training

Alliance members aim to improve the access of small businesses to digital technology. More importantly, they will help businesses get the training they need to use the technology.

Each partner offers something different. There are discount offers on products and services, additional support, employee training, and research.

It is a huge and ambitious goal.

Beating world

Nash says he wants New Zealand to have the most digitized small business sector in the world.

We have been here before. Other initiatives have had similar objectives. The difference this time is that there is more money, more support for the industry. It is a public-private joint venture.

Nash says the government invested $ 44 million for digital training and counseling in this year’s budget.

It distinguishes cloud computing. He says it has great potential. “A 20% increase in cloud computing adoption could be worth an additional $ 6 billion to the economy.”

Small Business Websites

An industry stakeholder said only half of New Zealand’s small businesses have a website. The implication being that it’s a measure of how much further we need to go.

Having a Website Can Help Small Businesses. It’s an effective way to find and retain customers.

However, this is not always appropriate. Many small businesses are subcontractors. They don’t need to sell themselves online. They also don’t need to spend money to advertise with Google or Facebook.

Their digital needs are elsewhere.

The barriers of small businesses to digital

MYOB surveyed small business owners. The results are revealing.

  • 41% say cost is the barrier to technology adoption.
  • 22 percent say staff training is the barrier
  • 21 percent say the problem is lack of knowledge.
  • 23 percent say the problem is implementation time.

At the event, I spoke to two guys from Innate Furniture, a small Christchurch business that took off for the launch.

I assumed their story was going to be about how they built a website and sales took off. Instead, they told me how last year they moved all of their backend systems to the cloud and how it made a real difference to the business.

This is where the benefits are huge.

Why Digital Boost is important

First, New Zealand’s economy is more dependent on small businesses than many other economies. Small businesses represent a greater share of our GDP and a greater proportion of jobs.

Large companies can afford to have technology specialists on the team. With small businesses, the responsibility could fall on the owner. Most likely, it will be with someone without training and experience.

Second, New Zealand small businesses are smaller than those found in other countries.

We are talking about companies with less than two dozen employees and the majority are much smaller than that. In other countries, it would be micro-enterprises.

Productivity gap

Third, our productivity lags behind other countries. Today productivity commission report says New Zealanders work longer hours than people in other wealthy countries and produce less for every hour they work.

  • 34.2 hours per week compared to 31.9 hours on average in the OECD.
  • $ 68 of production per hour compared to an average of $ 85 elsewhere in the OECD.

These numbers affect our standard of living.

Innovation is the key

Commission Chairman Dr Ganesh Nana says: “Innovation is the key to unlocking New Zealand’s productivity. There are only a limited number of hours in the day that people can work, so creating new technologies and adopting new and better ways of working is essential to achieve effective change. “

Which means that the Digital Boost project is timely.

If there’s one area the Digital Boost project and the Productivity Commission agree on, it’s that we need to do more than move people to digital tools.

Show how

The key here is to show people how they can use these tools.

There is an echo with cybersecurity. Many managers and business people believe that spending money on security products will solve the risks.

It can help, but without educating employees on how to think in a more safety-conscious way, those expenses are wasted.

Spending money on new computers, software, and services is a start. However, it is crucial to set aside part of the technology budget for training.

Essential skills for digital dynamism

Skills are essential to unlock potential.

Likewise, it is important to use technology where it has the most benefit.

It is not a coincidence Xero
and MYOB
are the origins of Digital Boost, the move to digital bookkeeping, tax paperwork and electronic invoicing can pay off instantly for a small business.

If Digital Boost keeps its promises, Nash says it can be worth billions of dollars each year for the New Zealand economy.

It’s great, but meaningless to individuals, what matters most is that it has the power to raise everyone’s standard of living.

Digital Boost, Productivity Commission and Standard of Living was first published on billbennett.co.nz.

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