While many people have easily incorporated technology in their everyday lives, Australia’s small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are still testing the waters when it comes to digital technologies.

According to ‘The Voice of Australian Business’, a bi-annual survey of SMEs across all industries and regions by accounting firm Bentleys, businesses were evenly divided with respect to seeing digital disruption as a threat or opportunity – 25% saw it as an opportunity and 29% as a threat. Michael Ruggiero, Managing Partner at Bentleys SA, said the split could signal a lack of understanding around how to embrace these technologies in a practical way, causing a reluctance to engage.

“We are seeing that SMEs that are proactively embracing digital technologies, particularly in the manufacturing and agribusiness sectors, are reaping the opportunities in how it can effectively improve or even change their business model and operations completely,” said Ruggiero. “However, according to our research, that is only a quarter of businesses. Given the rate of development of digital technologies, it’s somewhat surprising this figure isn’t higher.

“The ones who are seeing it as threat are worried it will disrupt their traditional way of approaching their business – essentially upsetting the applecart. However, when integrated properly, digital technologies should create efficiencies that not only improve the bottom line but free up time for business owners to spend on more important activities.”

Ruggiero believes SME owners should review their situation and consider how digital technologies can provide improvement. He recommends:

Seek professional advice: Only 26% of SME owners currently use external consultants to make business decisions, but in reality, accountants and external advisors are an extremely valuable source of information when it comes to new technologies and implementing them practically. Asking for help can offer peace of mind.

Tap into professional networks: Find out first-hand from other SME owners the types of technologies they use, what they like or don’t like, what challenges they encountered and how they overcame them. Peer-to-peer learning can be one of the best sources of information.

Do your due diligence: Every business has different needs. Think about areas of your operations where you spend most time and how digital technologies may help. Take time to undertake proper research – there is an abundance of useful information available online, so look at reviews and if possible ask technology providers for a run-through of the product or an outline of its features.