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SMEs crank out the ICT

Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) not directly related to the ICT sector produced around AU$15.5 billion of ICT in 2003-04, according to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Helen Coonan.

Small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) not directly related to the ICT sector produced around AU$15.5 billion of ICT in 2003-04, according to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Helen Coonan.

The statement follows the release of a report titled ICT Production in Australian SMEs, which revealed that around 74 percent of "actual ICT production" by SMEs was occurring outside of the ICT sector itself.

Coonan said the report provides "valuable insight" into the adoption and value of ICT to small and medium businesses.

"The report found 16 per cent of the 1800 SMEs surveyed were involved in some form of ICT production with 74 per cent of that production occurring outside of the ICT sector and generating $15.5 billion in the 12 months to April 2004," she said.

Coonan added that "SMEs producing ICT also had a higher rate of exports than other SMEs according to the report - 26 per cent compared to 16 per cent of SMEs not producing ICT."

According to Coonan's statement the report was designed to act as a "tool in policy development". The report included data from SMEs working in a range of sectors including business services, retail, manufacturing, hospitality and transport and construction.

The survey showed only 5 percent of the SMEs responding had employees "solely dedicated" to working on ICT.

Coonan said the high level of ICT production in SMEs can be attributed to the difficulty in finding products as she said "suitable goods and services were not available off the shelf" in many cases.

"They also said that it was more cost effective to undertake ICT production for internal use," she said.

"The report's findings are encouraging and the research undertaken is the first of its kind, providing valuable information for Government to feed into policy making and other decisions affecting the small business community and ICT producers," said Coonan.