Australian small and medium businesses are increasing their digital literacy, with more organisations moving beyond ‘basic’ usage levels of digital products.

According to the Deloitte Access Economics’ Connected Small Businesses 2017 report for Google SMB, 12 per cent of businesses have moved up the ladder and no longer have ‘basic’ levels of digital engagement.

For this first time, half have reached ‘advanced’ or ‘high’ levels of engagement across areas that include social media, ecommerce, websites, online marketing tools and data analytics.

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Deloitte Connected Small Businesses 2017
Source: Deloitte Connected Small Businesses 2017

Based on a national survey of over 600 Australian SMBs, the report found businesses with advanced digital engagement were 50 per cent more likely to be growing revenue; and earning 60 per cent more revenue per employee, than SMB’s with basic levels of digital engagement.

Deloitte Access Economics partner, and the report’s principal author, John O’Mahony said digital engagement in the sector has become a critical ingredient to SMB success – from revenue growth and job creation, to innovation and export opportunities.

“We’ve found that since our first report for Google in 2013, SMB take-up of digital tools has been accelerating over time, and that there has been a particularly strong uptick since we last surveyed business operators only 12 months ago,” O’Mahony said.

The report also identifies an improvement in digital engagement across all industries. Despite perceptions of lower digital engagement, SMBs in traditional industries such as mining, manufacturing and utilities, and trade and hospitality, were found to be performing even more strongly on digital engagement than knowledge industries such as professional and financial services, and health, education and public administration.

“Engaging with, investing in, and then keeping up with digital can open up significant new opportunities for SMBs in terms of agility, competitive advantage, innovation and growth, regardless of industry and geography,” O’Mahony said.

“It’s encouraging that digital engagement has increased across the board, but SMBs in regional areas and those with more established operations have lower digital engagement on average.”

But there’s still plenty of room for improvement. According to the research, 90 per cent of SMBs say they are still not taking full advantage of today’s digital tools.

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