A survey commissioned by PayPal Australia has reported that 57 percent of local businesses identify as having such low levels of digital literacy that it is preventing the business from operating more efficiently.
Despite knowing that there was a knowledge gap, only 51 percent of respondents said they have tried to improve their digital skills.
Of those surveyed, only 26 percent were selling online and just over a third were listing the business contact details online, yet 65 percent said that conducting business online is the key to growing.
The survey was conducted by Lonergan Reseach, which sampled 507 Australian businesses with less than 20 employees.
"Small businesses are a cornerstone of the Australian economy; it is vitally important that public and private sector unite to empower their ongoing success, ensuring that technology does not serve to disproportionately favour geographies, demographics, or industry sectors," said Jeff Clementz, managing director of PayPal Australia.
Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched the survey in Sydney today, and said that discussions about the digital economy under the former Labor government were held back by a need to spruik the NBN at every opportunity.
"The government would say 'e-commerce, fantastic! This will be enabled by the NBN', 'Small Australian butcher shops in Hobart exporting meat across Australia, enabled by the NBN', so it was as though none of the benefits of the internet would be available to you, other than through the government's own National Broadband Network," he said.
"And that was always just so much nonsense.
"More discerning people recognise that, but in a way it crippled the way the [former] Australian government approached this issue."