Losing access to data, having business information hacked and even snooping foreign governments are among the concerns of local SMEs expressed in the latest MYOB Digital Nation report.
Two-thirds of New Zealand business operators are worried about online security, according to the survey of over 1000 business owners and operators surveyed throughout the country for MYOB by Colmar Brunton.
The leading concern for local business operators is losing access to their data (44%), followed by hackers gaining access to business data (42%) and losing control of their data (34%). Other worries include the Government accessing their data, competitors seeing their information and surveillance by foreign governments.
By region, business operators in Northland (51%) and Bay of Plenty (54%) are less likely to be worried about online security, while those in the Hawkes Bay (77%) and Wellington (74%) have the highest levels of concern.
MYOB New Zealand General Manager James Scollay says the latest MYOB Digital Nation report highlights that SME operators are worried about the safety of their data – with just a small minority having no concerns about online security.
“The internet, and the online storage and services in the cloud that are now widely available, have transformed business,” says James Scollay.
“However, they have also transformed the nature of the security risk for businesses, with the threat of loss of data, illegal hacking or monitoring now a major concern for local businesses.”
Mr Scollay says local businesses are right to be cautious but should not let fear of cyber-crime stop them from utilising the many benefits of the online environment.
“As use of technology – and in particular adoption of online services – becomes widespread, SMEs are becoming increasingly vigilant and aware of the risks to their security. A maturing approach to online security is a good thing, as long as we are balancing the true risks with the wide-ranging opportunities of embracing technology.”
“Good security practices – like maintaining software updates, firewalls and anti-virus measures – go a long way towards making businesses secure when accessing the internet or working in the cloud. At the same time, reputable companies that offer online products and services are investing heavily in maintaining the highest levels of security.”
Access to the internet is less of an issue for local SMEs with business operators reporting improved satisfaction with both the speed and reliability and cost of their internet plans.
Satisfaction with internet access (speed and reliability) has risen from 40 per cent in September 2014 to 49 per cent in March 2015, according to the Digital Nation report. Levels of dissatisfaction have also fallen from 33 per cent to 29 per cent. Local SMEs are also happier with the cost of their internet plan, with satisfaction climbing from 30 per cent to 41 per cent and dissatisfaction falling from 38 per cent to 28 per cent.
Across all the regions, business operators in the Manuwatu and Wanganui are most satisfied with their internet access (66%), while Wellington business operators are the most satisfied in the main centres (61%). The rural community, however, is still less happy than their city counterparts, with 44 per cent of businesses in rural areas satisfied and 35 per cent dissatisfied with their internet access.
The proportion of SMEs connected to ultra-fast broadband has increased five percentage points in the last six months, with 24 per cent now using UFB, up from 19 per cent in September 2014.
Christchurch has shown the lowest level of growth in UFB connection for SMEs – and one of the lowest connection levels nationwide, at 16 per cent in March 2015. Wellington has increased from 21 per cent to 26 per cent, and Auckland from 28 per cent to 32 per cent. UFB connection outside the main centres has also increased, from 14 per cent to 19 per cent. The Hawkes Bay is the most connected region (37%), while Northland has the lowest level of UFB connection (15%).
Businesses connected to UFB have performed better during the latest survey period, with 37 per cent reporting improved revenue in the year to March 2015, compared to 31 per cent of those without a UFB connection.
Forty-seven per cent of local SMEs currently have an online presence, with 23 per cent only operating a business website, seven per cent just using a social media site for their business, and 17 per cent having both a website and a social media site for their business. As in previous Digital Nation reports, businesses with an online presence are more likely to report an increase in revenue (38%) than the SME average (32%).
Mr Scollay says access to the latest internet technology makes a fundamental difference to business performance, with far reaching impacts across the economy.
“Our latest MYOB Digital Nation report highlights that – at every level – if businesses are more engaged online, and have better access in terms of speed, reliability and cost, they are more likely to earn more,” says James Scollay.
“What this means is not only more opportunity to grow for individual businesses but also a greater potential to increase returns throughout the country – particularly to more remote areas which don’t have the same access to markets and customers without the internet.”
“While business owners are right to be taking a cautious approach to one of their most vital assets – their data, its very important we don’t let that concern cloud the opportunities the internet can bring for every SME. As businesses that provide online services, it is our responsibility to work alongside internet service providers, the Government and other agencies, to provide local business operators with the best possible information and tools to protect themselves online so we can ensure all of New Zealand benefits from the enormous potential of the internet.”