Telstra has unveiled a $600 million national broadband solution in an overt attempt to entice small businesses to embrace digital technology.
The Telstra Digital Business solution is a five-year plan promising to deliver significant savings for small businesses, and more streamlined technology including mobility and cloud computing.
The initiative was launched by Telstra chief executive David Thodey and Small Business Minister Nick Sherry, in line with new research highlighting how small businesses will benefit from making the “digital switch”.
The research, by global analyst firm IDC, found small businesses can save more than $3,000 per year by adopting key components of the Telstra Digital Business package.
Digital Business is designed for businesses with up to 10 employees initially, and will be available in capital cities from late May, expanding nationally to 1,600 exchanges by September.
According to another report commissioned by Telstra, Australian small businesses continue to lag behind with regard to their take-up of new technology.
The survey of 500 business decision makers found more than 10% of businesses with less than 20 employees operate without a basic desktop PC, while around half of the businesses surveyed don’t have a website or use online transactions in their business.
Telstra Business Group managing director Deena Shiff said in a statement the study highlights how many small business owners are wary of new technology.
“There’s a core of small business operators who are very interested and quite ambitious when it comes to using technology as a business tool, but almost half describe themselves as being cautious or not interested,” Shiff said.
Speaking at the launch of Digital Business, Sherry said it was important for small businesses to make the switch to digital technology.
“High speed fixed and mobile data services will be the backbone of the digital economy – providing Australian business opportunities such as improved productivity, reduced overheads and bigger customer bases,” Sherry said.
Thodey said Telstra recognised it had to make the switch easy and affordable for small businesses in order for them to enjoy business grade communications technology.
“Digital Business represents a major step forward for Telstra, giving us the ability to provide a higher standard of service to our customers at the same time as we are simplifying our own business and the processes which support the way we serve,” Thodey said.
“We have completely re-designed our customer ordering and service processes to make it easy for small businesses to order and install the Digital Business package.”
Telstra has already opened two prototype Digital Business demonstration sites in Sydney and Melbourne, and Thodey said mobile displays would be taken around the country in coming months.
A recent report by the World Economic Forum reveals Australia is ranked 17th spot with regard to network readiness, which refers to the interest in, and use of, technology by government, business and citizens.
Australia was ranked behind the US, the UK, Canada, Singapore and Taiwan, and was only one spot ahead of New Zealand. Australia also lagged in 22nd spot on the availability of the latest technologies.