Swimming with the tide: Understanding the global factors that shape Australian businesses

Globalisation and technology are changing the way we do business

Today’s methods of doing business have changed largely due to the impact of globalisation and increasing interconnectivity. Australian companies that have made a mark within their marketplace are being acquired by multinational corporations. With the country’s free-trade agreements, local enterprises can now expect competition from imported products and digital services, which can affect their long-term business. Apart from this, there is also the growth of technology, which has permanently altered the traditional process of doing business. Commercial and banking transactions have shifted online. Customers now have better access to information, making them savvier when bombarded with advertising. If companies want to earn their trust, they need to change the way they pitch their products and services to them and the public.

To ensure sustainable growth, some companies are shifting from having a product-centric approach to one that is customer-centric. Product-centric firms tend to prioritise the quality of their products to generate sales. Meanwhile, customer-centric enterprises focus on what the customer needs before developing products. They also strive to be responsive to their customers’ individual queries and feedback. This can build customer loyalty, and support long-term sales.

As such, customer-centric enterprises work hard to study their customers by using technology to monitor their behaviours and interactions, storing them in customer relationship management (CRM) software. They are also turning to social media to gauge customer sentiment and feedback, and are relying more and more on digital technology to serve customers all around the world.

All these changes can make a local entrepreneur feel seemingly out of touch. However, entrepreneurs must act on these shifts for their business growth to avoid insolvency. Let’s take a brief look at how these global factors affect the long-term aspects and the day-to-day operations of Australian businesses.

Technology

Technology has been permeating various industries across the world, altering the structure of their business models. With the internet, some companies such as Airbnb and Netflix are changing the way services are provided in the travel and entertainment industries. The advent of 3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry, while introducing problems related to intellectual property. Emerging technologies such as wearables and Bluetooth low energy transmitters offer companies a potential to personalise customer transactions.

However, about 70% of small and medium enterprises in Australia fail to take advantage of technological developments to advance their business, according to the Culturing Success report from Microsoft. With the fear of failure, these businesses overlook the opportunity to use innovative technologies that could streamline their operations and enhance their relationships with customers. To stay ahead of their competitors, Australian enterprises should begin to explore emerging technologies and increasingly integrate these into their business operations.

Differentiation

Due to globalisation and free trade agreements, Australian businesses are seeing tight competition with goods from other countries. Overseas manufacturers can sell their products at a lower price, which can put Australian producers at a disadvantage. Furthermore, multinational corporations are constantly expanding their territory in the country by acquiring smaller businesses, and making the market tighter for local competitors.

To stay competitive, Australian enterprises can work to differentiate themselves and offer a unique selling point to the consumer. For instance, a local textile manufacturer partnered with Australia’s national science agency to produce a three-dimensional, moisture-absorbing fabric. The company also ensured that the material is comfortable and it can be produced en masse. This caught the eye of a multinational corporation, which is now using the fabric in the production of nappies.

Australian enterprises are also recognising how technology is changing customer interactions, and have begun using it for their advantage. The four major banks in Australia are tapping into mobile payment apps to meet customer needs. Meanwhile, Telstra partnered with Ericsson to introduce a new optical network that can support the high-bandwidth activities of its customers and withstand disruptions from natural disasters.

Marketing

The traditional way of push advertising is no longer effective for marketing since audiences have learned to tune them out with better access to information. Through the internet, customers nowadays are savvier in their purchasing decisions. Nevertheless, Australians are more likely to purchase a product or a service when it is recommended by their family or friends. Customers still find word-of-mouth information trustworthy, and companies need to capitalise on this to enhance marketing.

Aside from this, businesses also need to engage their audience, and appeal to their human side. To win their attention, Australian companies need to have a customer-centric approach in their marketing. This will entail the use of compelling and useful content to suggest solutions to existing problems, instead of emphasizing what a certain product or service can simply do. They should also explore social media advocacy, where influential people on social networks are encouraged to try their products and offer recommendations, often marketing their products to their followers. In this way, they are establishing a relationship, and not a one-way transaction with their customers.

Recruitment/Workforce

Due to a shortage of tech talent, more and more enterprises in Australia are hiring online staff and outsourcing work. About 160,000 businesses in the country have hired over 84,000 people online, according to the statistics of ABC Technology + Games. This can be advantageous for small and medium enterprises in pursuing growth. It allows them to expand their operations for less when they outsource to another country. This enables them to access new market opportunities and new clients. It also helps them to save time by outsourcing other tasks, allowing enterprises to focus on strategies that will drive growth. Having offshore staff also helps SMEs to be responsive to their clients 24/7, allowing them to provide efficient customer service and remain competitive.

For Australian businesses, it may entail a rethink of organisational structures and workplace management strategies now that certain departments or teams are situated offshore or overseas. Australian companies need to be smart in maximising the talent of their local and offshore staff, to achieve growth for their businesses.

Donny

 

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