Too many businesses are overlooking opportunities offered by the digital economy, according to new research by MYOB Business Monitor.

In fact over one third of small medium businesses are missing out with less than four in 10 (38 per cent) have a business website, which has remained unchanged on the six months prior. Also only 12 per cent of these operators also have a business social media site, and a further 8 per cent have a social media site only – a new question for this survey wave.

At the same time, the survey showed only 16 per cent use cloud computing in business, which also remained unchanged on six months prior. Of those who did use the cloud said using the cloud reduced IT costs (25 per cent), gave them more access to technology (25 per cent) and greater ability to work remotely (25 per cent). Also, 23 per cent equally cited the cloud increased productivity and it allowed them to stay up to date with software and technology.

MYOB business division general manager James Scollay said there is tremendous scope for Australian business operators to boost their financial performance, strengthen customer acquisition and retention, enjoy work environment flexibility and improve business productivity by using online technologies.

“Businesses that use online technologies are increasingly outperforming their less tech savvy competitors,” he said.

“That’s why it’s vital for government and business leaders to work together with our business community, sharing knowledge about the benefits of embracing the online world and supporting them on their journey. Even the simplest insights can make the world of difference to a business.

“Half our respondents don’t have an online presence. Our research found those using a website and social media in business say these efforts produce more customer enquiries or leads and greater sales conversions.

“Those using cloud technology say it reduces IT costs, allows access to more technology and enhances their ability to work remotely. That’s why we encourage businesses of all shapes and sizes to make their business life easier by reading up about the benefits of implementing technologies such as a website and social media presence, online accounting software and so on. The internet has a range of forums, blogs and video tutorials on these topics.”

Further supporting the digital cause, SMEs embracing online technology had a more positive revenue outlook. For example, the study found 39 per cent of those who run both a website and social media site for their business were expecting a revenue rise in the next 12 months, versus 22 per cent of those without these sites.

“One third of SMEs are missing out on many benefits – a proportion that is way too high in this digital age,” Scollay said.

“They are in danger of being left behind other businesses that have taken the online leap.”