Small and Medium Enterprises

Current State and Future Vision

The importance to businesses of embracing the digital economy cannot be underestimated.  In fact, with or without high speed broadband, no business can afford to ignore the internet in their strategy. This was emphasised in a recent report from McKinsey( based http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/Internet_matters
/pdfs/MGI_Internet_matters_full_report.pdf
), based on research of over 3000 small and medium enterprises worldwide:

“All business leaders…. should put the internet at the top of their strategic agenda. Business leaders must optimise the benefits gleaned from the internet through innovation and change. It is no longer a choice, given that many businesses face competitors who capitalise on the power of the internet to innovate business models. Business leaders should…. systematically review how the internet allows them to innovate more aggressively and even reinvent their business models to boost growth, performance, and productivity. In particular, businesses should constantly try to identify up-and-coming internet trends that have the potential to increase the impact of their efforts…”

Some key findings in the report included:

  • 10% increase in productivity for small and medium businesses from internet usage
  • 2.6 jobs created for every  job lost
  • 75% of internet impact arises from traditional industries
  • Small and medium businesses heavily using web technologies grow and export two times as much as other businesses

The McKinsey report emphasised that the internet is still in its infancy, and that we can expect even greater changes and opportunities in the coming years. The NBN provides the opportunity for businesses in the region to put the internet at the centre of their future strategies and to grow their businesses.

While the literature illustrates why Far West NSW businesses (and Broken Hill businesses in particular) should be embracing the internet, the business community has identified a shortage of expertise in areas that are vital to online success. These include:

  • Graphic design and online branding capabilities – many companies send artwork to graphic designers in Sydney and Melbourne as the skills are not available in the region (e.g. Pro-Hart gallery);
  • Understanding of ecommerce (for example, how to set up online stores, the implications for traditional business models);
  • Digital marketing expertise (including search engine optimisation, social media marketing);
  • Change management skills;
  • Teleworking opportunities.

As such, the region must start developing these capabilities within the business community.

Internet services like cloud computing, video, online collaboration tools and the digital transmission of large data files are increasingly common in urban areas. Unfortunately, the Far West NSW region lags behind in all these areas. The current digital infrastructure makes these services unfeasible in the Far West NSW region and it stops innovation and creativity. For a region that is used to finding solutions to problems, it is hard to accept that solutions are beyond our reach until we gain access to high speed broadband.

A recent article on Poor Internet Service in the local newspaper, The Barrier Truth.

The region and the city of Broken Hill have some new generation business owners who already have a good understanding of how to leverage the internet. One successful company, which is maximising use of the internet, is Tri State Safaris(see more about it please go to www.tristate.com.au). Bells Milk Bar and Accidently Outback, two innovative local businesses, are also using the internet to grow their business effectively by reaching more potential customers. Click on the links to these videos of locals who are already using technology for their business, or who have grand ideas for the future when the enabling technology is rolled out .

Bells Milk Bar – Jason King on the NBN

Accidently Outback

Actions

What do we want to do Why Who will do it When Resources
Provide education about uses of high speed broadband to the business community – for example, via workshops and seminars, showcasing some of the best online businesses in the area via case studies and inviting those businesses to present at events to other local businesses. To learn the benefits and enable leveraging of technology to promote growth in business, employment in the region. Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce and RDA Far West NSW, Enterprise Development Centre, others ongoing Local skills – and we will seek to outsource mentoring and other services as opportunities permit.
Development of future workplaces (like Hub Melbourne) in Broken Hill. Hub Broken Hill can help budding entrepreneurs and inspire new business. RDA Far West NSW, others ongoing Future discussions with BHCC, Central Darling Shire Council, others
Development of business specific training to put together a training curriculum for local businesses. This should include best practice in business. To ensure our local business enterprises have knowledge of latest technology and can use it. Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Development Centre, RDA Far West, BHCC, others. ongoing Australian Flexible Learning Framework, others
Establish networking events to share experiences with technologies including cloud services, social media, and online business and e-commerce. To develop and embed knowledge and skills at the local level. Local IT professionals to start regular networking events. ongoing Local professionals employed in ICT and technology roles, others.
Completion of film studio and update the plan to develop a creative precinct around the studio grounds. (See Creative Industries section) BHCC ongoing BHCC
Create virtual art galleries and exhibitions – ensure global reach and awareness to facilitate development of new businesses in region, attract creative industries businesses, facilitate tourism growth, and contribute to innovation in the arts. Promote our arts and iconic tourist attractions from the region online and assist with economic growth and development. BHCC Regional Art Gallery, other galleries. ongoing Local resources and funding opportunities.

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