Inside Innovation: How 6 SMEs shook up business

What the technology revolution means for Australian SMEs

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The technology revolution has turned every small business into a technology company – whether they like it or not. What once was the domain of large corporations has now filtered down into every aspect of the economy.

From payroll and project management to communication and file storage, these technologies have not only streamlined the way businesses work, but made processes incredibly cheap. Combined with the app economy, SMEs now have improved solutions for doing business, communicating, and collaborating in real-time.

But many small businesses in Australia still see technology as an afterthought. A 2014 report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found there was a “lack of urgency to change”, among SMEs. They are deliberately choosing to be late adopters in fear of wasting money and resources.

However, it was also found the more knowledgeable and confident SMEs become about digital communications technology, the “easier the path to adoption becomes”.

Steven Strange heads one of these early adopter SMEs. As the head of health technology group Health Metrics, Strange’s company produces software and technology solutions for workers in the aged care industry.

Internally, technology has rapidly streamlined Health Metrics’ own services and processes. It has transformed the company into a faster, leaner and more productive work place, says Strange.

“We use Xero for accounting, we use SmartSheet to collaborate, and services like Trello to manage the collaborative development side of things.

“We’re always keen to use anything in the cloud and to work online.”

The reason for this is twofold – it saves money and encourages collaboration no matter where an employee is located. By using subscription based services like Xero, and other SaaS solutions including Trello, the business is able to connect no matter where they are.

For Strange, this is a perfect solution, as it means he can manage the business while on the road seeing clients and gaining new business.

“I can be on my smartphone and see staff positions at any time of the day, on anything. It’s a big difference to where I was a few years ago, where you were only beginning to see these types of collaborative and cloud-based tools emerging – now, they’re so commonplace.”

But this hasn’t been simply a case of adopting a technology and then looking the other way. Strange says businesses need to adopt a strategic mindset to embracing new technology no matter their stage of business growth.

Indeed, the ACMA report on technology found that newer businesses were more likely to adopt these technology solutions.

Strange believes businesses need to challenge the existing paradigms, disrupt themselves and be willing to change their culture for new technology if necessary.

“We’re aiming to disrupt the healthcare space, and so we have to be able to disrupt ourselves as well.”

The result is not chaos, but greater efficiency.

“We’ve got a stack of people who don’t even come into the office, and they’re creating all kinds of creativity from wherever they are,” he says. “Ideas never slow down, and…it’s been a real marker of our success.

“I honestly don’t know if we would have been successful if we were operating in another time, because we have all these digital tools now.”

These digital tools haven’t just allowed for the company to be more nimble – they change the way all staff think.

“These tools have generated a framework of ideas,” he says. “If we’re using these great tools, our organisation needs to be as good, or better, than those [tools].”

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Written by: Patrick Stafford


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