Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, has released a new report revealing that micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that embrace cloud-enabled technologies in Australia are expected to unlock up to AU$9.3 billion in annual productivity gains and support 1.4 million jobs across the healthcare, education, and agriculture sectors by 2030, representing 10% of all jobs in Australia.
AWS commissioned the “Realising a Cloud-enabled Economy: How Cloud Drives Economic and Societal Impact Through Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Businesses” report to examine the potential benefits of moving to the cloud for MSMEs (defined as businesses with fewer than 250 employees) addressing societal issues.
Conducted by global professional services firm Accenture, the report uses the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)'s definition of cloud adoption levels in 2030, where 90% of all businesses adopt at least a basic level of cloud technology.
The report reveals that Australia's current rate of basic cloud adoption, such as the use of web-based email services or cloud-based storage solutions, is at 48%, intermediate adoption, such as the use of customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning tools, is at 41%, and advanced adoption such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI), including generative AI, and machine learning (ML) tailored for sophisticated tasks including fraud detection or supply chain forecasting is at 15%.
The “Realising a Cloud-enabled Economy: How Cloud Drives Economic and Societal Impact Through Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Businesses” report covers 12 countries, including Australia, and uses market sizing, responses from quantitative surveys, and a combination of publicly available datasets from the OECD, the World Bank, and the Conference Board Total Economy Database.
The report reveals that by moving to the cloud, MSMEs can drive tangible benefits to the economy and society, facilitating remote medical consultations, improving access to education, enhancing precision agriculture, and more, all of which contribute to nations meeting the targets included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
In the healthcare sector, cloud-enabled MSMEs help address the challenge of limited access to healthcare faced by underserved communities. The report estimates cloud-enabled MSMEs can help unlock AU$4.7 billion in annual productivity benefits in healthcare and support 17 million telehealth consultations in Australia by 2030, a 145% increase on the current usage rate.
In the education sector, cloud-enabled MSMEs help address the challenge of accessibility and inclusivity of education through digital platforms. The report estimates these MSMEs can help unlock AU$2.9 billion in annual productivity benefits in education and provide seven million students and adults in Australia with e-learning solutions by 2030.
In agriculture, cloud-enabled MSMEs help address food shortage problems by implementing data-driven practices through cloud technologies such as AI. The report estimates MSMEs in Australia can help unlock AU$1.7 billion in annual productivity benefits in agriculture, and one in three farms will use precision agriculture solutions that enhance productivity by 2030, representing a 190% increase compared to the current usage rate.
“The report highlights that Australia has one of the highest overall cloud adoption rates globally, paving the way for the country to transition to a cloud-enabled economy. Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, though often the unsung heroes of innovation, play a crucial role in addressing challenges in Australian society, such as by improving access to digital healthcare and education services,” says Michelle Hardie, head of strategy and operations, ANZ, AWS.
“To accelerate adoption of advanced cloud technologies such as generative AI and realise economic and social benefits sooner, AWS is working alongside governments, educators, and the industry to help local businesses in Australia create a better future for all.”
Cybersecurity challenges, organisational culture, lack of access to information technology (IT) infrastructure (software and hardware) and digital skills are the primary barriers to cloud adoption among MSMEs.
To help MSMEs accelerate cloud adoption, the report outlines five key recommendations: identify how the cloud can streamline strategic business needs; evaluate industry and government support; upskill and educate employees in the cloud; review data and security policies; and create a whole-of-business cloud migration strategy.
Australian business associations are on board to help with the cultural change, IT skills development and technology access to progress. “The COSBOA team is deeply committed to supporting small businesses accelerate their digital transformation journey, and we’re excited by the opportunity these new cloud technologies present,” says Luke Acherstraat, COSBOA CEO.
“Small businesses are the heartbeat of Australia's economy, and often pioneers of innovation. Their adoption of digital tools and experimentation with cutting-edge technologies is crucial to tackling our nation's productivity challenges.”