Is your business dying?

At the release of a report into technological change and the accounting profession a few weeks ago, Melbourne University’s Professor Colin Ferguson said “I could see as many as 25% of companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) disappearing in the next decade because of the proposed National Broadband Network (NBN) roll out and other rapid technological change.”

Professor Ferguson could be optimistic. The internet today is where the automobile, telephone and mains electricity were 80 years ago — all were established technologies that had been around for awhile, but the society-wide benefits only began to be felt in the 1930s.

Many industries failed as motor vehicles became common and communities were connected to electricity grids and phone networks. Businesses that didn’t recognise those changes simply ceased to exist, while those who survived embraced and adapted to the new technologies.

The best example of why more that a quarter of enterprises will probably fail this decade is that 44% of businesses still haven’t bothered to get a website, despite three quarters of consumers and almost all business now researching their purchases online. These businesses without websites are invisible to those customers.

The tragedy is business websites are free with both Sensis and Google offering free Local Business Centre and Yellow Pages online listings. While these websites aren’t flashy, they give the basic information about your business that prospective customers are looking for and filling in the forms only takes a few minutes.

Business internet though is far more than just a bit of brochure ware on the web, a few weeks ago we discussed location based services like Foursquare and bar code readers like Red Laser. These are small examples of how technology is changing entire business processes and models, not just the marketing.

Like the car, telephone and mains electricity, the internet fundamentally changes business methods and the markets they sell to. If you aren’t adapting to those changes then your business won’t be around to talk about it in three years time.

The truth is Australia’s National Broadband Network has little do with it. These changes are happening now as pervasive broadband is being rolled out across major population centres. The role of initiatives like the NBN and Google’s US Fibre network is to make sure those benefits are being applied equally across nations and not just in downtown Melbourne, New York or Beijing.

Regardless of where your business is, it’s almost certain your industry is being radically changed right now. Is your business aware, prepared and flexible enough to adapt to those changes?


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Paul Wallbank is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on technology issues. He founded national support organisation PC Rescue in 1995 and has spent over 14 years helping businesses get the most from their IT investment. His PC Rescue and IT Queries websites provide free advice to business computer users and his monthly newsletter has over 3,000 subscribers.



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