Australian businesses point to poor internet speeds and lack of skills for limiting IT use

A survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also highlighted that the use of cloud computing has continued to grow

Poor internet speeds and IT skills are holding back Australian businesses, a new report has found.

Australian businesses said that four factors prevented or limited them from using ICTs during 2019-2020, according to new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The main reasons were a lack of skilled persons within the business, unsuitable internet speeds, uncertainty around the cost or benefit, and insufficient knowledge of ICTs. 

The research is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Business Characteristics Survey that examined businesses in the country during the 2019-2020 financial year. This was the first time questions had been put forward to businesses regarding the use of specific Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) they used.

Sixty-nine percent of all businesses recorded using one or more ICT while businesses with 200 or more employees (95%) were the most likely to report using one or more ICT. Also, cloud technology (67%) and cyber security software (26%) were the most common ICTs used by businesses in the country.

The survey also found that business use of paid cloud computing continued to grow, with 55% of all businesses using paid cloud computing, compared to 42% in 2017-2018. The use of this technology also increased with each consecutive employment size category; four in five (81%) businesses with 200 or more persons employed reported using this tech.

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Furthermore, the proportion of businesses that reported internet security incidents or breaches continued to decline; 8% in 2019-2020, compared with 11% in 2017-2018 and 16% in 2015-2016. In 2019-2020, 20% of all businesses reported having upgraded their cyber security software, standards, or protocols as part of their management practices for the use of ICTs.

In May, the Australian government announced it would invest almost $1.2 billion AUD (£670 million) in its digital future as part of its strategy to transform the country into a modern and leading digital economy by 2030. The investment would include digital cadetships to build digital skills, a new National Artificial Intelligence Centre, and support for emerging aviation technologies like drones.

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