Australian small businesses advance their digitalisation, thanks to COVID-19

A study revealed that 79 per cent of small and medium businesses are looking to take on a more virtual future via additional software investments.

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The majority of Australian small and medium businesses said buying software—particularly around collaboration and remote work—will be critical for their survival, according to a recent study from Gartner’s Capterra Australia unit.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, these businesses—employing more than one and less than 200 people—were forced to invest in software such as video conferencing to support their remote work. Now, 79 per cent of the respondents said they are already looking for further software to take on a more virtual future, said Anna Hammond, a content analyst at Capterra.

“Solutions were primarily purchased to help the team stay productive. Now, businesses are looking into expanding their offerings to remain competitive, as well as improving customer experience,” Hammond said.

The study showed that the coronavirus pandemic resulted, as expected, in large adoption of collaboration and video conferencing software, as well as remote desktop software. But there was also uptake of project management software and a small portion also invested in VPNs, HR software and accounting software.

A previous study by Capterra, from April 2020 as the pandemic lockdowns came into force, discovered that 57 per cent of Australian small and medium businesses were already operating fully remotely, with more planning to do the same. According to Capterra this shift to remote work resulted in rises in technology adoption, digitalised business offerings, telework, receptiveness to remote working and digital transformation leadership.

Hammond believes the digitalisation of basic business functions will be key to the survival of smaller businesses. “Some positives have come out of this experience. For example, digitalisation has accelerated because of the virus and people have learned they handle (and would prefer) greater workplace flexibility without compromising on productivity levels.”

As a response to changing market conditions and business needs, 68 per cent of decision-makers have moved budgets to other areas of their company. Of those, 48 per cent out said they did not have software acquisitions or upgrades planned before the lockdown.

A large portion of decision-makers, 78 per cent, said the software purchases they make will be critical to their survival during (and after) the pandemic. On the down side, 62 per cent were not confident their business could survive another six months under the current conditions, without factoring any governmental support.

For the current study, Capterra Australia surveyed 458 employees of Australian small and medium businesses, which included both full-time and part-time employees. Out of those, 75 per cent held management positions with decision-making power.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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