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The COVID-19 pandemic has seen remote working transition from being a personal preference to a matter of safety. The challenge for small businesses is not only implementing technology that supports working from home (WFH) but in finding solutions that replicate office culture virtually and deliver a better user or customer experience.
According to the ABS, in May 2020, 46 per cent of the Australian population was working from home. A Roy Morgan Survey conducted in June looking at which industries had the highest number of employees working from home found that financial and insurance led the way at 58 per cent, followed by public administration and defence at 51 per cent, and then communications at 47 per cent.
Services delivering solutions
Services account for over half of all global trade flows, equating to US$13.7trn of cross-border transactions in 2019. The adoption of new technology and a move to digital is reflected in the forecasted ICT industry growth – 62% of the increase in the value of overall services trade will come from B2B, ICT and Financial Services. Examples of ICT services being implemented include applications, internet and telecommunication upgrades, payment portals, analytic and data security software.
One high-profile example of a company that has met the needs of the WFH market is teleconferencing company Zoom. This business has grown exponentially during COVID-19 by delivering a service more efficiently than big-name competitors like Skype, Microsoft and Google. Innovative technology trends driving adoption include IoT, artificial intelligence and the cloud.
The breakdown of borders
Transaction and financial requirements can be undertaken by employees at home with the same level of network security protection as traditional methods. It’s the accessibility of digital solutions that support cross-border trade and transactions, and also benefit businesses by cutting third-party costs such as bank exchange fees.
The e-commerce space allows products and services to be marketed to potential customers without having the focus on size. This allows small businesses to compete with larger enterprises, across the same platforms, with the same payment solutions. Traditional retailers moving to e-commerce platforms can reach a broader audience with a global remit while working from the comfort of their home.
Small business benefits
Digital solutions aren’t dependent on size, meaning that small and medium businesses can have the same quality of solutions as large enterprises. As the market appetite for digital services grows, the cost of virtual solutions becomes even more feasible than traditional solutions that required expensive hardware.
WFH decreases the physical movement of people but increases digital movement, a space which is not defined by location. The accessibility of ICT digital trade services means that management updates and amendments can be deployed quickly across a virtual network, reaching employees regardless of where they are located. There is a clear opportunity for Australian service providers of all sizes to grow exports as distance becomes less relevant to trade.
Many big businesses (Twitter, Google, Facebook) have confirmed that WFH will continue to be part of their business model post COVID-19, highlighting the ongoing need for services as a trade. Businesses of all sizes that embrace the shift to digital solutions will be able capitalise on the agility and flexibility that this technology offers in these unpredictable times.