Aussie businesses blame skills and internet speeds for limiting IT use in 2019-20

The 2019-20 Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Characteristics Survey reveal for the first time what prevented or limited businesses from using IT during the year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) has revealed there were four main factors that prevented or limited businesses from using IT during the 2019-20 financial year.

These factors were lack of skilled persons within the business, unsuitable internet speed, insufficient knowledge of IT, and uncertainty around the cost of IT and its benefits.

It was the first time the annual survey questioned Australian businesses about this. Another first-time question that was introduced to the survey looked at what type of IT businesses used during the financial year. According to the survey, cloud technology was the most popular type of IT technology, which was used by 57% of all businesses, followed by cybersecurity software with 26%. Down at the bottom of that list was 3D printing and blockchain technology.

In terms of cloud usage, 55% of all businesses reported using paid cloud computing in 2019-20, which is 13 percentage points higher than the 42% recorded in 2017-18.

The use of paid cloud computing increased with each consecutive employment size category, ABS said, pointing out that 81% of businesses with 200 or more persons employed reported using this service.

The survey also showed that 12% of innovation-active businesses -- defined as "businesses that had undertaken any innovative activity" -- reported using Internet of Things (IoT) technology compared to 3% of non innovation-active businesses. Similarly, 9% of innovation-active businesses said they used data analytics versus the 2% of non innovation-active businesses.

Unsurprisingly, 95% of businesses with 200 or more persons employed were most likely to report using one or more form of IT.

When the ABS surveyed businesses about cyber attacks, 8% saw a decline in the number of online security incidents and breaches during the full year, compared with 11% in 2017-18 and 16% in 2015-16. In 2019-20, 20% of all businesses reported having upgraded their cybersecurity software, standards, or protocols as part of their management practices.

The ABS also took the opportunity to note that the BCS is currently undergoing a "redevelopment process" to "capture more detailed information on the two principal topics" of innovation and business use of IT.

The redeveloped BCS innovation module will be a standalone survey, while the collection of business use of IT and other topics will be combined in another survey, both of which will run every two years and conducted on alternating reference years, ABS said. The first innovation-focused collection will cover 2020-21, followed by the business use of IT survey in 2021-22. 

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