"Integrating Small to Medium Businesses (SMB) into the digital economy"

Jack attended the 2018 OECD Forum in Paris. Jack is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics and is also an Outgoing Exchange Manager for AIESEC Melbourne. 

Abstract

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) are fundamental components of the Australian economy and inextricably linked to middle-class welfare. With over 2.1 million SMB in Australia, they constitute two-thirds of the economy’s jobs and over half of private sector economic activity (Deloitte, 2017). With the rise of globalisation and the rapid growth of technology in the last two decades, the transition to a digital economy poses both risks and opportunities for SMB. Research has found that 87% of Australian SMB are not taking full advantage of the digital tools available to them, especially in regional areas. Given that SMB adoption of these digital tools can add $49.2 billion in untapped economic potential over the next 10 years (NPV), SMB adoption rates not only impact future economic growth and living standards but, on a broader level, impacts Australia’s capacity to compete on an international level (PWC, 2018). 

As such, the Australian Government has a clear prerogative to assist SMB. Although the reasons why digital technology is underutilised by SMB vary by geography, industry and characteristics of owners, recent reports have highlighted reoccurring themes of: a lack of education and training; limited financing opportunities; and a decentralised and disjointed support system, as key factors hindering their adoption of new technologies (Deloitte, 2017). With the rapid pace of digital technology making it difficult for SMB to stay on top of best practices, this report recommends that the Australian government establish a website and toolbox that can provide businesses with easy to understand information. Paired with a comprehensive marketing campaign, this website would assist in communicating the benefits of digitalisation whilst developing SMB digital capabilities. With the rollout of the NBN and other digital infrastructure projects taking place in remote areas of Australia, coupling this with streamlined training and information will assist in overcoming the divide between regional and urban SMB. Additionally, this report recommends developing a small business network to support the promotion of community digitalisation.

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‘Digital literacy; a powerful tool for the advancement and empowerment of women’

Anna attended the United Nations' Commission on the Status of Women 62 (CSW62) in 2018. She is currently studying a Masters of International Business at RMIT University and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce. As well as this she is currently working as a data analyst at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Abstract

The significance of incorporating women into the workforce has never been more apparent. Not only in terms of its impact on the productivity of an economy but equally the social impact it has on a country. Previous generations of women have fought hard to place the women of today in such a position. As boldly stated by Hausmann, Tyson and Zahidi (2008), ‘a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilises its female talent’. In developed nations, women have the opportunity to gain an education, work full-time and even contribute to the family dynamic. Yet still, women fall behind in key statistics such as participation rates and workforce utilisation rates. 

Undertaking analysis of key Australian government reports and statistical findings, this paper seeks to identify the primary areas in which women are falling behind in relation to utilisation and participation in the workforce. These findings will underpin recommendations for policy changes and harmonisation in digital literacy as one targeted solution in tackling lower participation and inclusion of women.

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