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Kiwi SMEs not buying into tech hype

22 Apr 2015

A significant number of small and medium businesses (SMEs) in New Zealand don’t believe technology has had a significant impact on their organisation, according to the 2015 Westpac Grow New Zealand survey.

This year, nearly 1,200 SMEs ranging in size from $250,000 to $5 million in turnover were surveyed online about the economy, future plans for their business, and their use of digital technology.

More specifically, businesses were asked about the impact of digital technology on their business over the last five years and in the short term future.

Nearly one third said digital technology has had no impact over the last five years and 27% expected it to have no impact over the next five years.

According to the survey, while SMEs have adopted digital technologies, few appear to have restructured their businesses to suit the digital world.

Westpac says, "The lack of impact over the last five years is surprising while they are also not confident about securing the right staff to capitalise on it."

"In the United States, productivity gains have been made by altering business structures to suit the new technological reality.

"There doesn't seem to be as much pressure for New Zealand firms to adapting quite as quickly," says Dominick Stephens, Westpac chief economist.

Other findings on digital technology included that only:
· 10% of firms have hired new staff
· 14% have invested in education and training
· 11% have changed supplier
· 6% have changed a distribution process
· 8% have changed organisational structure
· 3% have laid off staff because of new digital technology

The survey also found SMEs are also only using smartphones, tablets and social media in a rudimentary way, while 38% are unsure what is needed or how to obtain the right staff or training to use digital technologies.

These are among the findings of the 2015 Westpac Grow New Zealand survey and provide a comparison to the results of the 2011 Grow New Zealand survey.

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