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SMEs and digital communication technologies: a qualitative market research report prepared for the ACMA by GfK Australia

15 Sep 2014

Examines the adoption of new technology by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Executive summary

The research
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) commissioned GfK Australia to carry out a program of qualitative research with Australian Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) to understand the key drivers and barriers to Digital Communication Technology (DCT) take-up amongst SMEs. The research was also designed to increase the ACMA’s understanding about the extent to which current information provision to SMEs about digital technologies is fit for purpose.

The qualitative research was conducted in three stages, beginning with technology consultants, then with SMEs themselves, and lastly with key industry leaders, and comprised in-depth interviews, focus groups and case studies. The research was conducted between April and June 2014.

SMEs are choosing to be late adopters of digital communications technology
Many SMEs perceive digital communication technology as a tool that assists in running their businesses not as a necessity in and of itself. SMEs highlighted the importance of needing to see a strong case for adoption of digital communications technologies in the immediate future to offset potential barriers to use.

SMEs engagement with more mature digital communications technology solutions such as websites and financial management software was broader than newer innovative technologies such as cloud based storage applications. There was a strong sense from SMEs of a lack of urgency to change – that if things are going pretty well, they don’t want to waste money or resources on things they can’t be sure will work.

As a result, rather than simply delaying adoption or engagement due to lack of knowledge and information, SMEs are sometimes deliberately choosing to be late adopters. SMEs indicated that they like to make sure a solution’s success factors are proven and whilst they wait, the cost to adopt decreases.

In contrast industry leaders consulted during this study expressed concern that without a greater focus on adopting digital communications technology, SMEs won’t have the tools to sustain their businesses into the future.

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