TUANZ calls for the next Government to commit to accelerating digital adoption and capability in SMEs

Ahead of the general election in October, The Tech Users Association (TUANZ) has called on whoever makes up the next Government to commit to maintaining the momentum in improving digital adoption and capability in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The advancement of technology has the potential to reshape the landscape of business across New Zealand, driving innovation and economic growth. However, the digital gap among SMEs is holding New Zealand back as a country overall and in the aim to become world-leading in the adoption of technology.

Recent data from Yellow shows that one-third of SMEs still lack an online presence, 22 percent of SMEs with no website say they would like one, 12 percent say they would like a Google Business Profile and 9 percent say they would like a Facebook page.

“Some of our larger corporate members have indicated they are concerned about the rate at which small businesses can adopt or invest in new technology, when compared with their own businesses,” says TUANZ CEO Craig Young.

Various reports have identified the value to be found in increasing digital transformation. One report shows a value of $46 billion worth of economic value in our non-technology sectors by 2023 (Google 2021).

“It’s clear that we need all of our businesses, regardless of size, to embrace and adopt digital transformation if we are to achieve an effective, inclusive, and sustainable digital transition of the whole economy,” says Craig.

To help accelerate digital adoption and capability in SMEs, TUANZ recommends the next Government continue to support the small business Digital Boost programme. “We have heard that most participants in the Boost education platform show an uptake in business digital capability, including new and complex digital tools such as payment gateways, digital marketing and cloud services”

The Digital Boost Alliance programme, which sits next to the Digital Boost programme, is working through a number of initiatives over a longer term period. It’s a collaborative effort between the government and private sector organisations focused on motivating and inspiring small businesses, individuals and communities across New Zealand to lift their use of digital technologies. TUANZ recommends the Government should remain committed to partnering with the Alliance in developing solutions to assist SMEs participating in the overall project.

“With the growth of new technologies such as generative AI, programmes that support the digitisation of SMEs need to be continually updated to introduce these sorts of new tools to users to ensure they are able to integrate the opportunities they provide.”

To lower the cost of digitalisation, TUANZ recommends the Government should take an active role in incentivising SMEs.

“The focus must be on improving digital adoption and digitalisation practices with businesses who are resistant to change, unable to make informed investment decisions or those that struggle to navigate ambiguity or uncertainty. These incentives can be seen in other countries such as Denmark, Australia and Singapore and could include utilising the tax system to provide greater subsidies for digitisation, specific rebates for pre-approved digital packages, or direct grants to businesses through the Boost platform.”

TUANZ has put forward the following recommendations to Government:

  • Invest in continuing to develop the Digital Boost Programme and in particular the education platform.
  • Follow Singapore’s example of providing access to low-cost advisor services on digitalisation for small business through programmes like the Digital Facilitation Scheme.
  • Lower behavioural barriers to digitalisation by facilitating SME networks.

For further comment or interview, please contact Craig Young

Phone: 021 488 188

Email: craig.young@tuanz.org.nz

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