Analysts have forecast significant levels of growth in cloud services globally. But as with any market, the dynamics become noticeably different when you start drilling down into regions and countries. A strong understanding of an area’s specific characteristics is crucial for any provider wanting to harness this potential for growth and develop strategies that will deliver. In the next of our occasional series on SME adoption trends around the world, we look at Australia, and the opportunities available to providers there.
Hard at work
The day-to-day realities of running a business are as challenging for Australian SMEs as they are for owners elsewhere. Failure rates are high, with as many as 8 out of 10 exiting in their first three years. Nearly a third (27%) cite lack of time as a risk to their success, closely followed by lack of support (21%) and funding (21%).
Across the board, SMEs recognise the value of working in a digital environment, especially when it comes to such obvious advantages as rapid communication and efficient handling of information. And indeed, many have signed up to individual cloud-based apps that help them do just that.
Benefits not getting through
Yet while SMEs in other parts of the world are turning to cloud-based services to help manage a host of everyday tasks and free up time to focus on success, their Australian counterparts are as yet unclear about the benefits of making this move. There are numerous reasons for this state of affairs, which we can group into three broad challenges.
Information overload. Short on time and facing a glut of information online, many SMEs are finding it hard to judge what support is genuinely useful and worthwhile.
Siloed decision-making. It’s common in medium-sized businesses for decisions to be spread across the organisation, putting barriers in the way of subscribing to cloud-based services.
Perceptions around cost and training. Adoption of online tools is often driven by cost. SMEs will consider making a considerable investment if they can see it’s going to be worthwhile, or go so far as to trial a service, if it has low cost implications. However, training staff to use new technology can be a significant barrier to adoption.
Opportunity to get it right
SME owners are looking to trusted intermediaries to help assess the risk of signing up to cloud services. In that role, accountants and banks are helping to navigate them towards quality solutions. For example, accountants are promoting SaaS bookkeeping tools like Saasu, Xero and MYOB. And banks and telcos are starting to bundle cloud services with existing products. The key now is to take SMEs from internal and external discussions to full engagement.
By identifying existing barriers to adoption it’s possible to see how providers can focus their messaging and offer targeted and timely support. The more they understand these businesses and what they’re up against, the more they’ll be able to provide services that can help SMEs survive and grow on a daily basis. The organic evolution towards the cloud is going to happen, it’s really a question of which channels and propositions will accelerate this transition. With SMEs representing 94% of Australia’s trading businesses, that’s a goal worth pitching for.
Find out more about how we are transforming the way service providers interact with their SMEs through business cloud service brokerage, visit our solutions for telcos or solutions for financial institutions pages