Security concerns and age dog small business tech adoption

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Recent research published by DocuSign points to how Australian businesses are lagging when it comes to adopting technology, with 30% of businesses running only one to four Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, in comparison to the national average of nine. 

This is despite the pandemic acting as an accelerator for the adoption of SaaS solutions, with DocuSign noting that many businesses in Australia were forced to take it on out of necessity to continue operating. 

Speaking to SmartCompany, Dan Bognar, group vice president and general manager for Asia-Pacific and Japan at DocuSign, says that for many businesses, the biggest concern is security. 

“Security continues to be the number one criteria. There is this perceived notion in Australia that cloud solutions might be less secure, particularly if those SaaS services providers have infrastructure that might be outside Australia,” Bognar said.

Collaboration between IT and business units is another factor, says Bognar, with 30% of respondents saying it played a role in slow tech adoption in their company. 

“Another 28% also suggested challenges with integrating SaaS applications with their legacy environments, while 24% of respondents suggested regulatory obstacles as a factor,” he adds.   

DocuSign’s research aims to understand the criticality of time to value for organisations making IT decisions. It surveyed 194 IT decision makers across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, 54% of whom were senior IT decision makers from Australia. The research also focused primarily on the adoption of SaaS solutions for business.    

The research reflects a survey published in March 2022 by CPA Australia, which looked at small business adoption of customer-facing technology. CPA’s survey found that despite the use of technology improving for Australian small businesses in 2021, businesses continue to lag behind their counterparts in the Asian continent. 

CPA Australia found 35.1% of Australian small businesses were most likely not to make any investment in technology. In comparison, only 4% of small businesses from India were unlikely to invest in technology. Despite the pressures of COVID-19, Australian businesses were also the least likely to have begun or increased focus on online sales, with 44.7% of Australian businesses not earning any revenue from online sales, compared to 4.1% of Mainland Chinese small businesses.

This, as CPA Australia’s senior manager of business policy Gavan Ord notes, is particularly interesting given the data found online sales to be a good indicator of business growth. Ord also identifies that age appears to be the biggest factor.

“In Australia, the age profile of small business owners is 50 years or over. Often, they don’t understand what technology can do for their business or are happy with the current technology they use. A lot of tech advertisements are aimed at young, hip business owners, but in Australia, the typical profile is aged 50 or over,” he tells SmartCompany

“What companies need to do is engage with that audience on how their tech works and how it can help with their business.”  

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