See Technology as Key to Securing Competitive Advantage
Sydney, 24 October 2016 – OKI Data Australia, a global manufacturer of business printers and multifunction devices, has released the second annual OKI Australia SME Business Efficiency Survey (industry research).The survey provides insights into how the nation's two million small and mid-sized firms are striving to become more competitive and cost efficient and how perceptions have changed during the past 12 months.
Conducted during September, the survey targeted 1600 SMEs across all Australian states. Each was asked to complete a detailed online form and provide input on a range of topics including business efficiency, expenditure on technology and concerns over costs.
The survey found that just over three quarters of Australian SMEs (75.6%) believe their businesses are being run efficiently with out efficiency strategies. This is similar to the result obtained from the inaugural Business Efficiency Survey conducted at the same time last year.
Interestingly, 64.6% of the surveyed group said they had implemented new initiatives to improve cost efficiency during the past year. This is a significant increase from the 45% of SMEs that reported doing so last year. A further 13.4% said they were intending to undertake such initiatives during the next 12 months.
"This survey has provided a fascinating insight into how Australian SMEs are tackling the challenge of business efficiency improvement," said Antonio Leone, Marketing Manager ANZ, OKI Data Australia. "Our research found a lack of finance was the primary challenge faced by 30% of SMEs trying to realise greater efficiencies. This was followed by skill challenges, nominated by 25% and being unaware of any alternatives identified by 13.8%."
The survey uncovered some interesting views when it comes to the areas in which SMEs consider their operations to be inefficient. Of those who responded, 34.2% nominated their website, apps and e-commerce facilities as the greatest source of inefficiency. This was closely followed by IT, technology and online business systems that were flagged by 32.9%. Other areas included digital marketing and online advertising (27.8%) and HR staffing costs and productivity (25.3%).
When asked about the topic of business technology, 75.6% of survey respondents said they considered finding new ways to implement it a key opportunity for competitive advantage. However, somewhat counter intuitively, 62.2% said they were not planning to undertake a technological improvement campaign during the next 12 months.
When asked to nominate the areas in which they had made investments to improve efficiency during the past year, 71% said it had been the area of IT, technology and online business systems. A further 27.4% pointed to their website, apps and e-commerce systems.
"These results show that, although SMEs understand they can achieve efficiency improvements through investment in new technology, only just over a third have plans to do so," said Leone. "This could lead to growth constraints during the coming 12 months for some organisations."
The survey found the majority of Australian SMEs (58.5%) typically spend up to $5000 a year on technology to improve efficiency. The key factors considered before making a purchase were usability, cost and ease of implementation.
A further 29.3% of respondents reported they spend between $5,000 and $15,000 each year while only 9.8% spend between $15,000 and $50,000. Just 2.4% spend more than $100,000 each year. Interestingly, when asked whether they would invest more money in additional technologies to increase business efficiency, 53.1% of respondents said no.
The survey also asked respondents to indicate where any savings being achieved through the use of new technologies are being allocated. It found 37.1% were saving the money in a 'rainy day fund'. A further 16.1% said they were investing the money in innovation or gaining a competitive advantage while the same number were allocating the funds to additional marketing activities.
Respondents were asked to consider where, during the past 12 months, they had found it most difficult to see a return on investment. The area of IT, technology and online business systems was flagged by 31.5% of respondents followed by digital marketing and online advertising (24.1%). A resounding 91.5% of respondents said they considered cost efficiency a critical factor when considering the cost of maintaining technology.
"The survey clearly shows that Australian SMEs believe cost-effective technology is a critical factor when trying to achieve efficiency improvements," said Leone. "However, many are finding themselves restricted by budget limitations and frustrated by not having achieved expected returns from money already invested. I look forward to comparing these results with future surveys to determine how Australian SMEs are approaching the ongoing challenge of business efficiency improvement."
A full copy of the survey report is available: http://www.oki.com.au/printing-ideas/smart-solutions/detail.aspx?id=tcm:132-170693
OKI is a global manufacturer of business printers and MFP’s. OKI Data Australia commenced operations in 2009 following the acquisition from long-time master agent and distributor, IPL. OKI Data New Zealand was established in October 2015, following the announcement by OKI’s then master distributor in New Zealand - Comworth Technologies, to realign its business focus and exit distribution. Over 30 years ago OKI pioneered LED printing technology, an advanced form of printing using fewer parts compared with the more widely known laser printing. This in turn provides many benefits to users including longer product life, fewer operational issues, increased reliability and better image quality over the entire life of the print engine. All OKI LED printer products are backed by three years warranty upon customer registration, within 30 days of purchase. ColorPainter printers are backed by two years or three years (depending on model) parts only warranty.