Small businesses want easier online government interactions
Prof. Miriam Lips.
 
A new study has found half of small businesses in New Zealand already use online channels to conduct some business with government although traditional channels, such as telephone, regular mail and face-to-face, are also frequently used. 
The Victoria University of Wellington study further reveals that while many businesses would like to do more online, it is not the technology that is holding them back.
The project lead and Chair of Digital Government at Victoria University of Wellington, Professor Miriam Lips, released findings this week from a study into the conditions needed for small businesses to move more of their government interactions online. Small businesses are defined as those that are run by self-employed owners or employ 20 or fewer people, and 538 businesses across New Zealand were surveyed.
“The small businesses we surveyed usually interact with government agencies through a combination of traditional and online channels. It is interesting to find that social media channels are rarely used by these businesses in their interactions with government,” Professor Lips says.
“The research shows small businesses would use online channels more if they could find information and services for government agencies more easily online, if they were able to get a quick response to a question or if they could get in touch with a well-trained ‘real person’ at any time. Also, if the option is available to them, they would prefer to complete the whole service online.
“A key recommendation from the study is that government agencies need to design their online channels more with the business customer in mind and, preferably, in close collaboration with the business community.
“This includes having online functionalities that meet the needs of business customers, user-centric design and navigation of websites, better integration of services, and increased information sharing and reuse of non-sensitive information.”
The full report and summary of key findings are available online on the Chair in Digital Government’s website.