Microsoft at the Australian Parliament

Ninety-nine percent of companies in Australia are made up of small and medium businesses (SMBs), according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However, due to poor digital literacy, many SMBs are reluctant to use technology to run their businesses, and are falling behind their peers as they fail to grow their revenue and drive business growth.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Communications, Paul Fletcher (left) was impressed by the showcase, saying that it is “a powerful demonstration of Australian innovation”. Pictured with him is Cesar Cernuda, President of Microsoft Asia-Pacific.

To demonstrate how Microsoft has helped SMBs and other partners through technology, Microsoft Australia organised an event at the Parliament House in Canberra on 18 March. Hosted by the Australian Managing Director of Microsoft, Pip Marlow, and President of Microsoft Asia-Pacific, Cesar Cernuda, the event was attended by over 100 Members of Parliament (MPs), senators and political staff.

At the event, attendees got a look at the newest Microsoft devices and services, and the innovations created by local partners on the Microsoft platform. These partners included Object Consulting, which demonstrated Windows 8 applications created for the public sector; Generation-e, a unified communications specialist; local e-learning provider, Janison; and the Australian winner of Imagine Cup 2013, Foodbank Local.

imageIn addition, Cesar gave a presentation on the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, “Ahead of the Curve: Lessons on Technology and Growth from Small Business Leaders to Australian Audiences”, which was commissioned by Microsoft. The main message of this research—that tech-savvy SMBs can drive greater revenues and open up job opportunities for the community—resonated with the attendees, who each received a copy of the report. This report was also personally presented by Cesar to the Minister for Small Business, the Minister for Trade and Investment and the Shadow Minister for Communications during earlier meetings.

Greatly impressed by the calibre of the innovations displayed, Paul Fletcher, the Parliamentary Secretary for Communications, said that the showcase was “a powerful demonstration of Australian innovation”. Other parliamentarians also felt the event had helped them to understand the role of technology in driving both economic and social change in Australia.

“The country has been talking about ‘Australia Adjusting’ (a comprehensive economic reform agenda released in November 2013), but at Microsoft, we don’t want to simply ‘adjust’—we want to work with SMBs and the government to disrupt, and make sure Australia becomes a world-leading digital economy,” declared Cesar.

At the event, Cesar had the chance to engage various parties in discussions, and all of them reiterated their commitment to this vision. “We shared our individual blueprints for progress, and talked about collaboration opportunities. I have confidence Australia can achieve our vision by 2020.”

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