By Aimee Chanthadavong

Low levels of digital literacy still exists amongst Australian small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which is preventing them from running their business more efficiently, research from Paypal Australia found.

In fact, 79 per cent of SMEs claim there should be more help and guidance to help them embrace the digital economy.

As a result, Federal Minister of Communications Malcolm Turnbull launched the third year of Paypal Australia’s Driving Business (DBO) national education program to help SMEs understand technology from online payment services to invoicing, bill payment options and in-store solutions.

Citing research from AI Group’s ‘Ready or Not’ report, Turnbull said Australian industries that are most innovative in ICT intensive such as financial services, media, ICT, wholesale traders are also most productive.

“The bottom line is that the more you can use ICT and digital platforms the more productive your business will be; the more bang for your buck you’ll get – in your systems and people,” he said.

Turnbull also made clear that businesses should not solely rely on the National Broadband Network for progression to occur because “it’s out there right now”.

“We recognise that the digital economy and e-commerce and that’s related to big data is not solely connected to the National Broadband Network,” he said.

“One of the problems the Labor Government grappled with was they admitted themselves to such a huge project with so little homework and in a very contentious way then had to seek justify it all the time. So everything that was said by the government about the digital space – the ‘cybersphere’ – was said in a way that sought to justify the NBN.

“The government would say ‘e-commerce – fantastic! This would be enabled by the NBN’. It was as though none of the benefits of the internet would be available to you other than through the government’s own NBN and that way always so much nonsense.”

Turnbull also went on to say the Abbott government is committed to delivering a completed NBN because “it isn’t rocket science”.

“We are committed to completing the NBN and we will do so sooner, cheaper and more affordable than what would’ve been the case under the previous government,” he said.

“The project is regrettably not in a good place. It has made very little progress over two years where only 2 per cent of the build has been completed. We have to ascertain where it is now, how much it will cost in dollars and time to complete and then what can do about it speed it up to make it more cost effective.”