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The introduction of computing power to the every-day tasks faced by businesses has caused a fundamental shift in worker and firm productivity. Early adopters were large businesses, who reaped the benefits of technology by investing in infrastructure and training for their workforces. The recent explosion of more user-friendly and lower cost technologies facilitated by the internet and mobile computing, such as website design applications, smartphones, and social networking, is enabling mass adoption of information technologies and more accessibility to businesses without the need for deep corporate resources.

This in turn is changing the competitive environment for small and large businesses alike. Competition from small businesses is putting pressure on larger businesses to lower costs and improve services, creating more competitive markets, with the corresponding benefits flowing to consumers.

This NERA study—by President Dr. Lawrence Wu, Director James Mellsop, Academic Affiliate Professor Stephen King, Vice President Dr. Kristin Terris, and Senior Consultant Dr. Will Taylor—explores the ways in which the internet and mobile computing have enabled small businesses in Australia to operate more efficiently and to compete more effectively in their markets. Small businesses have traditionally faced a variety of impediments to entering markets, expanding their businesses, and competing with larger firms. This paper discusses how the internet and mobile computing have reduced these impediments, and provides examples of Australian small businesses that have overcome these challenges and have been able to expand their sales using the internet and mobile computing technology.