NBN Co looks to RSPs, channel to promote digital strategies to SMBs

NBN Co is advising small and medium-sized businesses across Australia to develop a digital strategy to adapt to the rapidly changing world, and is leaning on the IT channel to help spread the word.

Speaking at CEBIT Australia’s SMB Digital conference in Sydney, NBN Co executive general manager for business Brendan Donohoe said small and medium businesses are dependent on their local trusted provider and they are critical to the success of implementing digital strategies.

“The biggest challenge in the industry is knowledge – the one thing about small business is they’re experts in their business. They are scared of technology, they think someone’s trying to rip them off, {and they think about] do they really need it?” Donohoe said.

“When you go through all of the insights from a small and medium business, they are very dependent on their local trusted provider. So the ICT channel and MSPs are really critical to success from an education and guidance point of view.

“At the end of the day, the telcos are always going to be critical, but the trusted source in a lot of cases is definitely the local trusted partners and we’re working with both because the biggest thing we can do in the market is to lift the education.

“If we lift the education, volumes will come, the activity will come, we’ll expand our footprint, and obviously we’ll get the outcome we want but also the retail service providers.”

Donohoe discussed the importance of SMBs adopting digital strategies, the lessons NBN Co has learned from SMBs during the COVID-19 pandemic and spruiked the company’s enterprise offerings by explaining how “business-grade connectivity” is a key platform for a digital strategy.

Donohoe cited an internal NBN Co study that found COVID-19 prompted 84 percent of SMBs across Australia to fast track their digital strategies.

“[When an SMB] has a strategy, you’ve got something that you can accelerate, something you can put more money into and something you can actually bring forward,” he said.

“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re totally reactive and reacting on the fly about what should be done moving forward, how to get people to work from home, how employees can connect with them or how to get employees access to data. There were a lot of businesses panicking when they found they had to work from home.”

Donohoe added that SMBs also should also look at telecommunications costs as an investment, especially when compared to the cost of labour.

“There’s key factors to provide employee satisfaction – people don’t want to do mundane tasks and want things to be automated, as well as access to the latest tools,” he said.

“They want to be able to input information on the fly when they’re out visiting a customer rather than putting it back when they’re in the office, so being able to do the work remotely becomes critical. All of those factors start to lead to you needing to be digital to retain employees to deliver good customer satisfaction, and more and more, to grow.”

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