Tech giants launch SME support platform


Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

A new website has been launched offering free services from global tech giants for Australian businesses trying to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) launched the new Australian Business Continuity platform with the help of funding from some members. The platform gives advice to companies looking to adapt to remote working and other challenges of the current economic crisis, along with a selection of free services.

“A small business might now be interested in wanting to have a virtual meeting or presentation, but most of them don’t know how to use that technology or where to go to find it, or how to address any issues they might have with setting up the applications,” AIIA chief executive Ron Gauci told InnovationAus.

Connections: Big Tech is opening up free services for Australian SMEs

The portal aggregates all of those services in one place and provides information for an organisation to learn about how to make those meetings most effective and use the applications to provide business continuity.”

Right now these free services are all from large multinationals, including Google, Microsoft, Adobe and Facebook. But Mr Gauci said the AIIA has heard from local tech firms looking to be involved, and this could be an opportunity for the Australian sector.

“We’re absolutely seeing more wanting to be involved and we encourage Australian organisations to approach us. This is an opportunity for businesses to support the economy,” he said.

“We know there are some very good businesses who are well-meaning and have good solutions that want to play a part in assisting with creating awareness of these solutions, and we’re more than happy to field those.”

Australian tech firms looking to offer up their services for free will soon be included on the new portal, Mr Gauci said.

“We will ascertain the appropriateness of any approaches we get from other suppliers or other vendors, and those we deem to be of use to Australian business continuity we will post on the site.”

The idea for the platform emerged from discussions with government and members, Mr Gauci said, and is similar to other efforts made during Australia’s recent bushfires crisis.

Assisting SMEs with the technology required to work from home is “absolutely critical”, Mr Gauci said.

“The reality is that organisations on a day-to-day basis are trying to work out how they’re going to get through this, and what the business will look like at the other end of it,” he said.

“These tools will not only help during this crisis but I’m confident that with the technology available these tools will have some longevity in the way they conduct business in the future.”

Some of the free services available through the platform include Google’s video conference software, Microsoft Teams and ServiceNow.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews welcomed the announcement, with the portal now featured as a resource on business.gov.au.

“This is just another example of how our business community – in this case the tech sector – is stepping up to help other Australian SMEs navigate the unprecedented challenges of coronavirus,” Ms Andrews said.

“Working remotely is foreign to many businesses but is now essential as they practice social distancing and I encourage all businesses to explore the new hub and see how it could help them make it to the other side of this outbreak.”

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