Businesses urged to use tech more cleverly

22:26, Jul 02 2013

New Zealand businesses have been smart in the uptake of internet and technology services but many are far from clever in their use of it, a researcher says.

A conference in Wellington yesterday discussed reports and research about how New Zealand could improve productivity growth, including through the better use of technology.

According to the New Zealand Productivity Commission, the country's productivity growth has been persistently low when compared to other OECD countries.

Chair Murray Sherwin said this was despite having generally sound regulatory, policy and institutional settings.

One of the issues raised yesterday related to how information communications technology (ICT) could be better used to improve business productivity in New Zealand.

Sapere Research Group principal Hayden Glass, who spoke about research he conducted with Eli Hefter on the subject, said the debate was currently stuck on business access to technology.

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"The debate should no longer be about access and it should go beyond technology. The debate is now about business use."

According to Statistics New Zealand, 70 per cent of businesses in New Zealand had a website, which was less than the 96 per cent of companies which used the internet.

Of these websites, only 19 per cent had the capacity to accept online orders, and only 12 per cent would accept online payments.

However, most of these websites were "basically brochures", Glass said.

"In terms of selling things our businesses are much less developed.

"There's still some work to do in terms of taking advantage of the technologies that are available."

New Zealand was ranked seventh in the world for use of the internet but only seventeenth when it came to our ability to extract economic value from the internet.

He said New Zealand's productivity would be benefited most when non-technology based businesses began to use the internet in a smarter way.

This was because globally economies were becoming knowledge- based, he said.

Glass said there were four key myths which were pointed to as reasons why improved technology use was slow.

These included policy, infrastructure, prices and low take-up.

He said the key issue, however, was unproductive use by businesses.

"The challenge is not that the technology can't do it; it's actually bringing it into your business, bringing it into your organisation, bringing it into your government organisation in a way which changes the way you operate."

In using the internet more effectively businesses could access global markets and create a bigger pool of customers, he said.

The Dominion Post