James Hyndman

How is the nbn impacting Australia’s finance function?


With the National Broadband Network (nbn) rollout nearly three-quarters complete (according to the organisation’s latest release), many of the initiative’s impacts are becoming clear. And despite the negative press, particularly for rural and regional areas, there have been significant benefits in specifics areas of Australia’s business sphere – namely, the finance function.

New insight from Xero and AlphaBeta has shown exactly what the nbn impacts on businesses and accounting teams have been.

1) nbn-mature areas have undergone massive employment growth

Xero reports that in 2017, businesses in ‘nbn mature’ parts of Australia saw employment grow by over a third more than other zones.

Despite lingering fears about the impact of technology on jobs, the nbn is one case where stronger connectivity and greater variety in business plans has enabled organisations to recruit more talent and foster continued growth.

The nbn is the framework upon which much of the finance function can evolve.The nbn is the framework upon which much of the finance function can evolve.

2) Apps are at the heart of growth

Businesses that utilise applications were at the forefront of Xero’s recorded employment growth. For finance functions, that doesn’t just have to be the aforementioned accounting giant (or connected apps). Wave, GoDaddy, QuickBooks all moved from strength to strength, and the development of the nbn provides the infrastructure on which any organisation can build a strong database of tools for growth.

Additionally, Xero found that businesses were using an application to manage their employment growth. Anything from training to payroll to HR can be influenced through the nbn rollout.

3) Automation improves the finance function’s efficiency

A consequential impact of the above points is higher levels of automation in a business’ finance function. While Xero notes that 30 per cent of Australian businesses still lodge their business activity statements in a physical format, the proliferation of the nbn will ensure this (alongside most critical business accounting tasks) will move to the digital realm.

As businesses also embrace single touch payroll, e-commerce platforms and multi-factor authentication for clients, a streamlined digital platform will prove essential for efficient back-end management. That’s only possible with the right base infrastructure.

Stronger connectivity breeds better automation capabilities.Stronger connectivity breeds better automation capabilities.

Building a better finance function

Typically, Australia’s financial teams have dealt with significant levels of menial paperwork and repetitive tasks. Much of this work is a prime target for automation, freeing up the finance function to take on more analytical work, stakeholder engagement and proactive influencing of a company’s direction.

In short, the nbn isn’t just infrastructure for faster internet. It’s the platform through which the finance teams leave behind time-consuming tasks, and are able to contribute more creatively and comprehensively to a business’ growth.