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Digital apathy not an option

Opinion

Digital apathy not an option

Darrell Edwards says all businesses need to ride the digital revolution or risk being left behind – and there are government programs that can help.

Small businesses on the Sunshine Coast risk being left behind unless they keep pace with the digital revolution and the speed at which innovation is occurring.

That is the reality as digital disruption – the change that occurs when new digital technologies enhance the value of existing goods and services – becomes increasingly relevant to all of us.

Though it’s been around for two or three years, digital disruption is still considered by many business owners as ‘foreign’, something that exists in apps used by Uber and Airbnb. Something that will not happen to them.

They’re wrong. It’s everywhere, but this creates opportunities for everyone.

Last month I visited the Myriad festival at the Powerhouse, which showcases startup business with amazing technology.

Entrepreneurs were being encouraged to build businesses and be agile in a changing environment. They talked about pivoting, coding, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Many of the 120 exhibitors were new technologies. However just as many were about process re-engineering using technology to build efficiency and productivity. That’s digital disruption in action.

Soon Amazon – its international success a product of digital entrepreneurship – will reach Australia, providing challenges for many retailers.

It’s everywhere, but this creates opportunities for everyone.

So how do you compete and win in challenging times?  Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. Each small business owner must understand how they compare with their peers in terms of technology adoption.

Then, they can decide what action to take to build a business’s productivity, efficiency and capability.

They can do this by completing the Queensland Government Digital Scorecard, a digital skills analysis for all businesses.

It is a short questionnaire which also allows business owners to take part in free follow-up workshops.

Business owners will discover digital opportunities to grow their business and make it more sustainable and efficient.

At the same time, Sunshine Coast Council is funding its Level Up program aimed at helping local small and medium businesses to use digital tools, innovation principles and business solutions so they can improve productivity, profitability and their ability to compete locally, nationally and internationally. This program includes workshop elements, as well as webinars and mentoring.

These pathways complement each other. Some business owners think they don’t have time, however building efficiency and productivity in your business will free up time. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Apathy is not an option. Do something about your own digital revolution.

mm

Darrell Edwards is the chief executive officer for Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast.

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