Optus has launched Yes Business, a community for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) providing an online platform for connecting owners and employees with "information, ideas, and tools to solve problems".
The free community will provide a solution for the almost half of SMBs -- according to a survey of 82 Optus SMB customers -- that already seek advice and expertise from business owners, Optus said.
It includes articles and advice columns written by business owners and professors, with pieces currently on the platform including information on search engine optimisation, finance, auditing, business systems, enterprise social networking, outsourcing, and business grants.
"Optus' Yes Business platform allows SMBs to connect to a digital community where they can seek a range of advice, tips, and solutions within the one place," Optus head of Small and Medium Business Matthew Ball said.
"We know 46 percent of SMB owners seek advice from other small business owners, yet there are still feelings of frustration and isolation. Yes Business aims to alleviate these feelings by connecting SMBs with a like-minded and knowledgeable digital community."
Optus said its survey had also showed that 61 percent of SMBs feel "isolated"; 35 percent have wanted an expert to help them solve a problem; and 22 percent feel there is not enough information to help them successfully run a business.
Such an online platform appealed to 67 percent of its respondents, Optus said.
"We're focused on continually improving our services to customers, and it's important to us that our customers can turn to us not only for communications advice and service, but for business. Listening to our customer base, we know SMBs want an easy-to-access online community for support, know-how, and expert advice," Ball added.
Optus has been focusing on the SMB segment for the past year, launching the Optus Smart Shop marketplace last year with access to SMB cloud apps and technology, as well as a 24-hour technical support line.
Its smart shop includes access to Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint, Sage One, Xpenditure, MozyPro, PlanHQ, Act Cloud, Cloud Flow, and security tools for identifying malware and viruses across files, emails, websites, and social media accounts.
In May last year, Optus also opened 126 SMB specialist stores as well as an SMB call centre in Adelaide, and introduced "premium" support services for SMBs in addition to launching Optus Loop earlier this year.
A cloud-based telephony system for SMBs that provides hybrid mobile and fixed-line services, Optus Loop was launched in partnership with unified comms provider BroadSoft in May, with the latter's BroadCloud running the system.
Optus Loop provides voice, instant messaging and presence, voice, file sharing, and video conferencing services, with a soft client for desktops and tablets. According to Optus, the service could save costs for SMBs annually by removing the need to purchase, manage, and maintain infrastructure.
Rival carrier Vodafone Australia also recently signalled a greater push into the SMB segment, launching its new suite of "ReadyApps" for business customers in September.
According to Vodafone, the launch of the 16 new apps "coincides with a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign reinforcing Vodafone's commitment to providing the tools and support to help small businesses succeed".
Vodafone's SMB apps include Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Office 365 Business, Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, Microsoft Intune, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business Online, Symantec Endpoint Protection, Norton Security for Professionals, Dropbox Business, and Google G Suite.
Additionally, Vodafone is providing business customers with 10 or more connections with a personal account manager.
Telstra's SMB apps include Office 365, Box, Squirrel Street, Canvas, Zunos, Deputy, GeoOp, Time Tracker, Neto, and DocuSign, with the incumbent telco also announcing a joint venture with National Australia Bank last year to form a digital marketplace for SMBs to swap or pay for marketing, design, technology, accounting, and other business services.
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