What is dri­ving Queensland’s drop in dig­i­tal con­fi­dence and readi­ness?

INNOVATION

The lat­est Digital Readiness Report (December 2019) by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) saw a drop in busi­nesses dig­i­tal con­fi­dence since 2016. The re­port aimed to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how busi­nesses in Queensland are us­ing tech­nol­ogy to in­crease brand aware­ness, con­nect with their cus­tomers and grow their busi­nesses. Further, the re­port ex­plored the greater op­por­tu­ni­ties and lim­i­ta­tions busi­nesses are fac­ing when im­ple­ment­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.The re­port un­cov­ered four key in­sights, all of which paint an in­ter­est­ing pic­ture about Queensland busi­nesses dig­i­tal readi­ness as we move into the new decade.1. Businesses are us­ing so­cial me­dia, but most don’t know if it’s work­ing.2. The National Broadband Network (NBN) is fu­elling cloud-based busi­nesses.3. More busi­nesses are cov­er­ing data man­age­ment and data se­cu­rity risks, with 77% of re­spon­dents con­fi­dent that their data is se­cure.4. Businesses are less op­ti­mistic about their abil­ity to get an ad­van­tage from im­ple­ment­ing tech­nol­ogy in their busi­ness, with a drop in op­ti­mism from 90% to 78% since 2016.In this ar­ti­cle, we will ex­plore and at­tempt to un­der­stand the un­der­ly­ing fac­tors dri­ving this re­duc­tion in dig­i­tal con­fi­dence, and dis­cuss how we may use tech­nol­ogy to com­bat the re­duc­tion.

What is dig­i­tal con­fi­dence?

The Brisbane Digital Confidence Index re­port con­ducted by QUT in part­ner­ship with Brisbane Marketing in 2018 de­fines dig­i­tal con­fi­dence as, “trusting that ex­pec­ta­tions will be met to over­come con­straints in the dig­i­tal econ­omy”. The re­port goes on to state that with­out con­fi­dence in our dig­i­tal econ­omy, dri­ving suc­cess­ful out­comes be­comes dif­fi­cult. This is a cycli­cal loop, if con­fi­dence in our dig­i­tal econ­omy starts to fal­ter, we will no longer be­lieve our ex­pec­ta­tions will be met caus­ing con­fi­dence to fall fur­ther and the cy­cle re­peats.

Since CCIQ last re­leased their Digital Readiness Report in 2016, we have seen a re­duc­tion in dig­i­tal con­fi­dence by a stag­ger­ing 20%, to only 78% in 2019. So if dig­i­tal con­fi­dence is largely dri­ven by our trust in ex­ceed­ing the con­straints of our dig­i­tal econ­omy, what could be caus­ing this drop? There is one met­ric in the CCIQ re­port that could have an im­pact, that is the National Broadband Network.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is the dri­ving force be­hind dig­i­tal readi­ness

The Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) is one of the largest in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects Australia has ever un­der­taken. The NBN aimed to build the frame­work re­quired to power Australia’s dig­i­tal econ­omy, pro­vid­ing both ur­ban and rural busi­nesses and con­sumers with world class in­ter­net. The sen­ti­ment sur­round­ing the NBN has how­ever shifted quite dras­ti­cally since it was first an­nounced.

Areas that were part of the early roll­out of the NBN were for­tu­nate enough to get ac­cess to the Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) tech­nol­ogy, oth­ers have been rel­e­gated to “mixed tech­nolo­gies”. These tech­nolo­gies have ex­pe­ri­enced sub-par per­for­mance, with many re­port­ing lower than ad­ver­tised speeds and re­li­a­bil­ity. This is es­pe­cially preva­lent in rural and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, where in many cases they have been down­graded to fixed wire­less or satel­lite tech­nolo­gies, both of which have sig­nif­i­cantly poorer per­for­mance when com­pared to even their mixed tech­nol­ogy ur­ban coun­ter­parts.

This has dri­ven a dig­i­tal di­vide be­tween not only ur­ban cen­tres with ac­cess to FTTP and those who don’t, but more im­por­tantly, ur­ban and rural com­mu­ni­ties. What was sup­posed to close the dig­i­tal di­vide in Australia and pro­vide us with tools for our dig­i­tal econ­omy to flour­ish, has widened this gap even fur­ther than be­fore.

We can see a shift in pub­lic opin­ion from the busi­ness com­mu­nity re­flected in the Digital Readiness Report. From the 2016 re­port, 70% of re­spon­dents be­lieved the NBN rep­re­sented a good in­vest­ment of tax­pay­ers money. In the most re­cent 2019 re­port, that fig­ure is now only 36%. If busi­ness own­ers are now see­ing the “backbone” of Australia’s dig­i­tal econ­omy no longer a wor­thy in­vest­ment, it could be one of the fac­tors caus­ing the drop in dig­i­tal con­fi­dence over the past 3 years.

How to im­prove your dig­i­tal readi­ness with soft­ware

Over the next 12 months, Queensland busi­nesses are plan­ning their dig­i­tal in­vest­ment pri­mar­ily on new or up­dat­ing soft­ware as well as fo­cus­ing more on the cloud ac­cord­ing CCIQs find­ings. This is in­dica­tive that de­spite the drop in over­all dig­i­tal con­fi­dence, or­gan­i­sa­tions are still want­ing to in­vest in new tech­nolo­gies. If in­vest­ment in these ar­eas re­sults in pos­i­tive out­comes for busi­ness, we could also ex­pect an in­crease in dig­i­tal con­fi­dence. This means busi­nesses must be very pre­scrip­tive in how they tar­get their in­vest­ment to en­sure the best dig­i­tal and busi­ness out­comes are achieved.

When con­sid­er­ing in­vest­ing in a soft­ware so­lu­tion, busi­nesses will of­ten as­sume a com­mer­cial off-the-shelf so­lu­tion (COTS) is al­ways the best so­lu­tion. Whilst a COTS so­lu­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial in some cir­cum­stances, they can also carry a lot of risk, and if you’re not care­ful, very ex­pen­sive.

Imagine you de­cide to in­vest in a COTS so­lu­tion. You pick a so­lu­tion that seems to fit your busi­ness needs, and of­fers you a range of ad­di­tional fea­tures, at ad­di­tional cost. Over the next two years, your busi­ness needs grows. In or­der to en­sure the COT’s so­lu­tion con­tin­ues to meet the de­mands of your busi­ness, you are re­quired to spend a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of your cap­i­tal to main­tain and fur­ther cus­tomise the soft­ware to meet your re­quire­ments. What was once a sim­ple off-the-shelf prod­uct is now highly cus­tomised in an at­tempt to suit your busi­ness. While COTS has many ben­e­fits (i.e. ex­ten­sive fea­ture sets), the long term costs as­so­ci­ated with an off-the-shelf so­lu­tion are of­ten over­looked.

The ben­e­fits of us­ing cus­tom soft­ware to im­prove your dig­i­tal readi­ness

If you’re look­ing to in­vest in new soft­ware, or need to up­grade an ex­ist­ing sys­tem, you may have re­alised that COTS is­n’t nec­es­sar­ily the best so­lu­tion for what you’re try­ing to achieve.

Custom soft­ware en­ables you to ad­dress many of the short­falls of a COTS so­lu­tion. The most in­stru­men­tal ben­e­fit to build­ing your own cus­tom soft­ware so­lu­tion is you own what you’re build­ing. There are no li­cence fees, no wor­ry­ing about which tier is ap­pro­pri­ate for your busi­ness and you aren’t at the mercy of the COTS provider if some­thing were to hap­pen the so­lu­tion. You are in com­plete con­trol.

Rather than us­ing a COTS so­lu­tion, cus­tom soft­ware al­lows you to build a fea­ture set that fits your busi­ness re­quire­ments ex­actly. As your busi­ness grows your in­vest­ment in your cus­tom soft­ware so­lu­tions stays the same, in con­trast with COTS which grows. This gives you far more con­trol over how much you’re spend­ing on the soft­ware you de­ploy in your busi­ness. When im­ple­ment­ing soft­ware into your busi­ness, it’s im­por­tant to con­sider how you will be us­ing the soft­ware you de­ploy so you can make the right de­ci­sion be­tween build­ing some­thing cus­tom or buy­ing an off-the-shelf so­lu­tion. Doing so will en­sure you’re get­ting the most value out of your in­vest­ment and can im­prove your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s dig­i­tal readi­ness.

Start build­ing cus­tom soft­ware

If you’re in­ter­ested in im­prov­ing your dig­i­tal readi­ness and ex­plor­ing cus­tom soft­ware so­lu­tions fur­ther, your next step is to con­sider which firm is right for you. WorkingMouse is a pro­fes­sional ser­vices com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in be­spoke web and mo­bile soft­ware de­vel­op­ment. We use the Codebots tech­nol­ogy and our unique ag­ile process, the Way of Working, to de-risk pro­jects and de­liver so­lu­tions tai­lored to the needs of your users. Contact us now for a con­sul­ta­tion or find out more about so­lu­tions we’ve helped cre­ate.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Oliver Armstrong

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