Rural SMEs shun the internet

Rural SMEs could be at risk of falling behind their urban peers according to the latest data from accounting software firm MYOB
Rural SMEs shun the internet

Its latest Business Monitor report shows that rural SMEs have the "lowest levels of online connectivity" compared to metropolitan and regional centre SMEs.

Only 10 percent have a business website, compared to the average of 23 percent across all SMEs, while almost 73 percent have no online presence whatsoever, compared to an average of 50 per cent across all SMEs.

According to MYOB’s James Scollay, that puts them at greater risk of losing out on revenue.
"We are seeing increased correlations between people using online technology and business success. It is definitely increasing and that’s one of the most interesting things we’re seeing across all sectors of SME, this increasing digital divide.

"The companies that are using technology are materially outperforming those that aren’t."

According to the report, 27 percent of rural SMEs have seen revenue increase in the last 12 months, compared to 37 percent of Metropolitan and 31 percent of regional SMEs.

However, Scollay says there are likely some unique factors playing into the reasons that rural SMEs are less connected that their peers elsewhere. 

"Rural operators are significantly more unhappy with the speed and reliability of their internet service. They are 20 percent more likely to be dissatisfied than the average SME in New Zealand," he says.
Rowarth says rural businesses are "very rapid adapters" when they can see the value in an innovation, but when it came to discussing business are "more about checking out your eye contact".

A chance for engagement and conversation was also important as they often worked in isolation.
"The time that they visit town on a weekly or monthly basis is when they actually get to talk to people."

She agreed that rural connectivity was also a major problem.

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