Managing Director of BGA Digital
"It’s important for the country that we remain competitive and innovative and small business adopting digital technology is critical for that."Gerd Schenkel
Small business stories
The Australian Government Coat of Arms. White on a navy blue background.
TEXT: Small Business Digital Taskforce. BGA Digital.
A middle-aged man has greying hair and wears black-rimmed glasses. He wears a light-grey suit and a pale open-collared shirt. He stands in the shade on a sunny stretch of suburban grass.
TEXT: Gerd Schenkel. Director. BGA Digital.
My name is Gerd Schenkel. I'm the owner of BGA Digital, which is a management consulting firm. It's basically me and a number of freelancers and we specialise on digital business consulting. We started the business many years ago. But we kind started it and stopped it over time. For the past eight months, that's been my main occupation.
Behind Gerd, people relax on the grass in the shade. Beyond the grass, people stroll in the sunshine down a busy suburban road.
I mean I used to be a management consultant in my first job. And then I became a banker, and when I was a banker, we started a digital bank for one of the major banks in Australia. And that's when I really learned about the power of digital business.
I then went on to do the same thing for Telstra or a similar thing. And I realised that so many people need help doing this. So now I'm serving from very small businesses to very large corporates in Australia, trying to leverage the knowledge we've collected over the past 10 years.
I'm a member of the Small Business Digital Taskforce of the Federal Government because I'm very passionate about the power of small and medium enterprises for this country. We know that the majority of people work for one of those companies. They also need help. It can be quite lonely to be an owner of a business, not have all the help that large companies might have. But it's so important for the country that we remain competitive and innovative. And adopting digital tools is really critical for that.
My main objective being a member of the Taskforce is to make sure that what we come up with is useful and helpful to small businesses. It might also mean that we can help to slightly shift the role that government can play in helping small businesses, from not just regulation and information but also actually providing tools and useful things every day that will make a difference to our people.
In my business, of course, we use digital tools every day. And many of those tools are known to most people. So, electronic calendars, mobile phones, email, but also other tools, collaboration tools. So we collaborate with clients, for example, on documents, they are stored in the cloud from the beginning, everybody works on it and we kind of work on one document as a group. That wouldn't be possible without mobile phones, without iPads, the internet and all the services that come with it.
For the past few months, what we've been hearing in the Taskforce from small businesses is really interesting. So firstly, about half of the business owners have a stated ambition to grow. For them, it's all about “How can I grow my business with limited resources?" And digital tools are obviously very powerful, but there are so many, so where to start?
The other half of small business owners, they don't have a stated ambition to grow but they also have aspirations for their family life, for their hobbies, for their professional excellence. Now, those people also can do with help from digital tools to free up time for the things that they really want to do. So the trick is not tell them what to do or what they should be doing with their business, the trick is to understand what their goals are and help them as much as we can to achieve those goals.
The real power of the taskforce is that it brings together the government and ministers and government employees with people in business from all different parts of business, really. And we found in conversations that that combination gives us different outcomes that neither of us could've done on our own. Therefore, we really think that the taskforce will be providing some outcomes that are useful, that will make a contribution to the live issue of small business digitalisation in this country.
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