Driving your business in the Digital Economy

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There is a new online buzz word that keeps cropping up lately, and it is one I suggest it is one you get yourself familiar with real quick: Digital Economy.

There has been plenty of talk about a ‘two-speed economy’ in Australia, that is, an economy that is both booming thanks to the mining and resources sector, and struggling across many other sectors.

But if we consider the two-speed economy a veritable ‘economic highway’, which for the sake of familiarity we’ll call ‘The Bruce Highway’ in homage to the 1700km of Queensland roadway which commences in Brisbane and finishes in Cairns, (and which is particularly apt given most boom traffic on the whole IS heading north whilst downturn traffic is generally heading south); then the Digital Economy is a veritable Autobahn.

I refer to it as such because the Digital Economy is being aided in part by the rollout of the NBN which will bring broadband to 90% of Australian households and internet speeds of 100 megabits per second – 100 times faster than those currently used by most people living in a town with a population of around 1,000 or more people. [Source: Click Here]

In my mind, while there are many businesses attempting to merge onto this ‘Digital Economy Autobahn’ with extreme trepidation, there are many more that are still travelling on the ‘Two-Speed Bruce Highway’, often completely unaware that the ‘Autobahn Digital Economy’ is even there and that their current and emerging competitors are taking a faster route to business nirvana.

The fact is, the internet has changed the way businesses and consumers interact and transact forever yet according to research, as a nation we’re painfully slow in redirecting our course.
Research from Sensis reveals that in the digital marketing stakes only 17% of Australian Small Businesses have a digital strategy and more surprisingly 40% don’t have a website. Only 14% have a social media presence, compared to 50% of larger businesses. Compared to bigger businesses, 74% of which employ a marketing department to manage their social media presence, SMEs view it as a luxury that only one in 10 small businesses invest in.

Whether businesses are currently travelling on the ‘Two Speed Bruce’ or the ‘Digital Economy Autobahn’ the good news is that there are ‘billboards’ informing ‘drivers’ that help is available in the form of online solutions, if they’d only slow down a moment and be present enough to take in the actual name of the solution and commit to doing something about it, rather than driving past yet another great business opportunity.

In yet another metaphor, on both veritable highways, there are is also plenty of ‘roadside assistance’ and ‘service stations’ in the form of Federal and State Government Departments, free and subsidised professional development and networking events, industry bodies and knowledgeable private sector specialists where you can fuel up on knowledge, pick up a co-driver or get some general directions in the form of a roadmap to help you navigate this new terrain.

Without this support, and an effective vehicle and crew (your business and staff) you may never actually get to your destination due to a terrible ‘accident’, more stream-lined vehicles continually overtaking you, or simply conking out along the way.

Just like you would engage an accountant to provide you with financial advice, a lawyer for legal advice, a HR consultant for your HR affairs and a PR or Marketing specialist for your marketing affairs; these days a digital strategist/expert/specialist should definitely be ‘on board’ and form part of your core advisory team. This stuff is just too important to get wrong.

The biggest mistake Aussies often make is we are a nation of ‘she’ll be rights!’ and ‘do it yourselves’. But beware, whilst many of the online solutions on offer may appear ‘free’, or be low cost enough to lure you in to have a crack at it yourself, it is important to ask yourself what the cost to your business could be if you get this stuff wrong, OR don’t get around to strategizing and executing.

To put it quite bluntly, it could be the end of your business as you know it.

This is no time to be complacent. The internet, the NBN, smart phones, tablets and a whole lot of other technology is here to stay, and if your business plans to stay too, it’s best you get a motor on!

Which ‘highway’ are you/your business currently traveling on? Are you ready to merge? What do you think of the NBN rollout? Do you see the benefit of engaging a digital specialist? We’d love you to comment on these points, or others in the area below.

NOTE: The Creative Collective runs or is involved in a wide range of live events, programs and online training aimed at assisting business owners to achieve online success. Check out a list of our upcoming events here.

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