The Federal Government needs to better educate small and medium businesses about the benefits that can be realised from the National Broadband Network (NBN), a new report by the Australian Industry Group and Deloitte has found.
The report, entitled Australian Industry Group National CEO Survey 2012: Business Investment in New Technologies, sampled 540 CEOs across the manufacturing, services and construction sectors and found that only 30 per cent of businesses considered themselves to have a high or medium level of information about the benefits of the NBN. Just more than 50 per cent reported to be "ready to take advantage" of the NBN.
In comparison, most regional and rural businesses considered themselves unprepared for the NBN.
The report also found that 80 per cent of the CEOs surveyed had invested an estimated $25 billion per year on new technology during the past three years.
Companies that made the investment plunge received a return of 16 per cent improvement in productivity levels.
"This report confirms the importance for government programs to help small-to-medium businesses better understand how they can take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the National Broadband Network," the report reads.
Aside from the productivity gains, the report also cited improving data management, development of new or improved products and services and increase energy efficiency as reasons for the investment of new technologies.
According to Deloitte technology, media and telecommunications leader, Damien Tampling, that technology is no longer regarded as merely an innovation or advancement, but a "ticket to play" and imperative to businesses.
"By investing in new technologies, Australian businesses are becoming more productive, as well as more innovative, competitive and smarter, particularly with how they engage with customers," the report reads.
Companies that had not invested in new technology listed uncertainty in the domestic and global economy, rising input costs and the higher exchange rate as factors. Businesses that did invest also cited the same reasons for their decision to adopt new technologies to improve efficiency.
Despite the report stating that business "need to be actively encouraged, supported and facilitated by government and research institutions" to take advantage of new opportunities, more than 80 per cent surveyed intend on training existing staff to gain the skills required to take advantage of the benefits of a high-speed broadband network. Approximately 25 per cent considered hiring extra staff for this too.
Ridout and Tampling are yet to comment.
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