Report Overview

Technology and connectivity critical for Australian SMBs

With COVID-19, the Australian economy has undergone a large demand-side shock where consumer demand for many products and services has disappeared following the introduction of social distancing rules to flatten the infection curve. This has had a significant impact for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) which do not have the access to capital and the large balance sheets of large enterprises to weather this emergency. Yet, SMBs are a critical backbone to society and are key to reviving Australia’s economy following the COVID-19 crisis. There are over 820,000 employing SMBs in Australia and they collectively create more than 7 million jobs and contribute around 57% of Australia’s GDP.
With social distancing rules forcing many businesses to work remotely, connectivity is more important than ever to sustain operations, connect with customers, and monitor assets and inventory remotely. To better understand business needs, Optus Small Business and Venture Insights recently conducted a survey of over 600 Australian SMBs to capture the importance of remote access, online ordering/billing, and technology for businesses to achieve their goals.
This report presents the survey results across 602 SMB owners with 5-20 employees and highlights four key insights relevant to the shift towards remote working during the COVID-19 crisis:
  1. Technology is increasingly important for SMBs
  2. SMBs need better connectivity options to operate effectively with technology
  3. Having a remote working (or work from home) plan, particularly around cybersecurity, is very important for both operating efficiency and business continuity
  4. 5G represents an important shift in telecommunication capabilities to increase SMB efficiency and productivity


Key Takeaways


Technology is increasingly important for SMBs

Connectivity options are important for SMBs to operate effectively

Next-generation mobile networks will improve connectivity

Roadmap to rebuilding stronger SMBs

List of charts/tables

Figure 1. Survey respondents come from a variety of states across Australia

Figure 2. Survey respondents are sourced from a variety of industries

Figure 3. Technology is very important for the majority of SMB businesses

Figure 4. SMBs believe smarter technology will play a greater role in efficiency over the next three years, underpinned by improved connectivity services (e.g. 5G) and strong cybersecurity

Figure 5. Major technology failures have potentially impacted 51% of SMBs

Figure 6. Fast, reliable internet is crucial for 98% of SMBs

Figure 7. Network performance (speed, reliability) and cybersecurity are amongst the top technology issues SMBs face

Figure 8. More SMBs are willing to allow staff to work from home given recent events around COVID-19

Figure 9. Most SMBs are comfortable with their staff’s home connectivity to be able to work from home, but not all are convinced that they will be able to achieve the same levels of work activities

Figure 10. Most SMBs believe their business’ cybersecurity is well positioned against cyberattacks

Figure 11. SMBs are leaving themselves exposed by not taking all the basic steps to protect themselves online

Figure 12. SMBs nominate network performance and speed as their top mobile purchase factors

Figure 13. Many SMBs appreciate the value of 5G for economic growth

Figure 14. Most SMBs see the importance of 5G

Figure 15. Most SMBs plan to upgrade to 5G within 12 months of availability

Figure 16. Improved network performance was at the top of SMB wishlists