Media Release, 17 January 2014

As Australian small businesses set their sights high for 2014, strong business confidence paired with rapidly increasing digital disruption is creating the perfect storm for tech savvy businesses to thrive.

John Boniciolli, Telstra Executive Director Small Business said that last year many industries continued to be turned upside down with innovative new business models designed for the digital, global marketplace that significantly impacted traditional business.

“We’ve seen the internet and multimedia technologies advance at a rapid pace. E-business has been the buzz word, pushing businesses to take a close look at how they operate and what they must do to remain relevant to customers,” Mr Boniciolli said.

“Some industries have been affected more than others, with traditional media distribution, such as CDs, books, music, movies and of course news, hardest hit. The retail industry also continues to evolve, as the mobile-connected customer firmly dictates the rhythm of retail.

“In 2014 even the smallest of businesses will face both the challenges and opportunities the new digital world brings, whether that means embracing social media for marketing, an online retail function or the digitisation of business data in the cloud to improve efficiency and reduce administration,” Mr Boniciolli says.

According to Dun & Bradstreet’s latest business expectations survey, two out of three Australian businesses (68 per cent) are more optimistic about growth now than 12 months ago, with the positive mood lifting first quarter expectations for sales, profits, selling prices, investment and employment to their highest levels in 12 months.

“With companies looking ahead with optimism, and as business begins to pick up, it is important to look closely at how to embrace a digital strategy to gain a competitive edge,” he adds.

As small businesses prepare to make the most of the opportunities that higher business confidence will bring in 2014, they should set clear, achievable goals.

“As we head into the new the year it is a great time to reflect on the year that was in order to understand how it impacts your business, to set new goals and a clear plan on how to reach them,” he concludes.

John Boniciolli’s top tech SMB lessons from 2013

  1. Business is still about personal relationships – Email and mobile communication has made us hungry for faster and convenient anywhere, anytime communication and information delivery, minimising the need for in-person meetings and saving us from wasting time in taxis and airport lounges. The last year showed that face-to-face time is still crucial to building relationships in business. Video conferencing can make meetings shorter and sharper so you get more done and reach decisions quickly.
  2. Paper based systems are dead – Mobile business applications have started to take over old paper based systems, allowing small businesses greater flexibility, by allowing employees to work from anywhere at any time with their mobile devices, instead of being tied down to the office. Mobile business apps like Canvas, for example, produces invoices on the spot from your smartphone or tablet and makes carbon copy books and re-typing orders into a computer later, a thing of the past.
  3. It’s now a two-way dialogue – Social media has created a platform where customers are eager to engage, and small businesses need to know how to best communicate with their customers, to capitalise on a significant business opportunity. As a brand, it’s important to be authentic, relevant and representative of who you are, and if done correctly customers will want to engage with you, as well as provide feedback, that can potentially help to fuel future growth for your business.
  4. Gen Y employees are now calling the shots – Young people in their 20s don’t know a world without immediate access to information, and they have higher expectations of computing tools, software and apps to do their work. For this reason, it’s crucial that your technology is able to keep up with the pace, and you’re nurturing a flexible working environment, both in and out of the office, otherwise you may be at risk of not attracting and retaining gen Y employees.