A free online tool helps local businesses boost their digital know-how, including guidance on remote working, e-commerce, and increasing their online presence to make it easier for customers to find them.
The tool enables small to medium-sized businesses that use little digital technology to complete an online assessment and get a free customised digital action plan, focusing on their website, online marketing and/or digital business tools.
The assessments, action plans and linked online resources help businesses find out about digital technology that can help them right now.
The free tool is being made available to local businesses by Auckland’s economic development agency, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), in partnership with social enterprise Digital Journey.
Mayor Phil Goff says 88 per cent of Auckland businesses have fewer than six employees and 98 per cent fewer than 50, so it is vital to provide the region’s small to medium-sized enterprises with practical support they can put into action immediately in response to the COVID-19 lockdown.
“Our small to medium enterprises are a key part of the region’s economy and employment,” he says.
“This online tool will provide practical assistance to businesses looking to adapt to the new realities of working under the COVID-19 alert system, which in many cases will require rapid adoption of digital and online technologies.
“It will help businesses adjust to working remotely, improve their websites and online offerings, and develop web-based marketing and communications tools, among other forms of support.”
"ATEED is working hard with council family, government and industry partners, to help Auckland businesses of all sizes, in all sectors and to support our region’s major industries through this time.”
ATEED General Manager Economic Development Pam Ford says while the digital assessment project predates COVID-19 and its impacts, it took on greater significance and urgency in the face of current events.
“We know from recent surveys that businesses understand they need to use online or digital ways of connecting and running their operation. They need information now about digital business tools and digital marketing.”
ATEED is using feedback from businesses to shape the support it is providing, to ensure it is delivering information and resources Auckland businesses want right now.
“We will be looking at a range of initiatives to support Auckland’s recovery, but with businesses now shut apart from essential services, our priority is to help Auckland businesses connect to the Government’s COVID-19 response package and other available support. This digital tool is one part of that as we focus on delivering the practical support our businesses need as they face the current situation,” says Pam Ford.
ATEED has created a business resources webpage, assessing and collating useful tools and information to help businesses of all sizes through this time. This page is updated regularly.
The page contains details of the free web series being produced by the EMA, with support from ATEED and the Regional Business Partner Network (RBPN), providing expert information on issues businesses are facing now, from helping employers tackle mental health to tools around cashflow and redeployment.
ATEED’s Business & Innovation Advisors continue to connect businesses with specialist expertise available via the RBPN, as the Government’s Auckland partner for this programme. ATEED has put more staff from other parts of the organisation onto this team to meet high demand, to help process queries from businesses and provide administrative support.
To ensure the support ATEED provides meets the changing needs of Auckland businesses through this time, ATEED is doing regular business surveys. The agency provides Auckland-specific data to its partner organisations, including central government to inform appropriate responses.
The digital assessment tool will give ATEED and its partners a greater understanding of Auckland SME digital readiness and digital adoption, to guide future actions.
“We’re committed to supporting Auckland’s regional economy to be as resilient as possible in the face of COVID-19. Our people are working closely with our regional and national partners, including government agencies, industry bodies and Auckland Council to ensure Auckland’s economy is in the best possible position to face what will be a new ‘normal’ when this crisis eases,” says Pam Ford.