Business uptake of ICT project

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) supports small New Zealand businesses to use the latest technologies as an integral part of their business to improve productivity, add value to their products and services and become more internationally connected and competitive.

All New Zealand businesses should be secure, resilient and thriving online so they can run their businesses more efficiently, grow, innovate and compete as customer preferences increasingly ‘go digital’.

Between 2017 and 2019, MBIE’s Digital Economy team, with small businesses, business and digital advisors, industry organisations and economic development agencies,  co-designed and ran a pilot programme to better understand small business uptake of technology. The pilot included input from industry associations and small businesses in the construction, tourism and arable farming industries, as well as key advice and assistance from PwC and Digital Journey(external link).

Key findings

The small businesses, business advisers and industry associations interviewed gave insights into: what motivates small businesses towards digital uptake; who they trust to advise them on their digital development; key business pain points, and the things that are most likely to influence their behaviour towards becoming more digitally capable.

Overview of the key findings [PDF, 220 KB]

The pilot was undertaken in three stages: Research (Discovery), Co-design (Alpha) and Pilot Programme Testing (Beta). An overview of the three stages can be accessed here:

Stage findings overview [PDF, 130 KB]

Toolkit for trusted intermediaries

The pilot identified that small businesses trust certain people and organisations – such as business advisors, industry associations, economic development agencies, accountants, regional tourism organisations - to help them make decisions on their digital development. Most of these ‘trusted intermediaries’ were looking for help to access the information and advice they need to help upskill their small business members and clients. 

A toolkit was developed to help trusted intermediaries run effective digital uptake events. It is now available as a resource for trusted intermediaries and other organisations wanting to better utilise their existing events to support small businesses to lift their use of digital tools and approaches. It is of most value to event owners who are less digitally experienced, or to those already thinking about working with small businesses with low to medium digital capability.

Toolkit contents

The toolkit operates as a shared resource for a community of trusted intermediaries to use, improve, and start to build professional networks which better support small businesses wanting to embrace digital tools.  

Event guide

Digital uptake event guide [PDF, 1.1 MB] - your go-to-guide for planning digital uptake events.

Case studies

Small businesses told us they want to hear success stories. These short stories currently cover the following business examples and describe the benefits of going digital

Construction case studies [PDF, 115 KB]

Tourism case studies [PDF, 258 KB] 

Arable farming case studies [PDF, 95 KB]


Evaluation form [DOCX, 31 KB] - a short form for attendees to complete following your event. It will help you learn about what they found useful and identify possible improvements.

Assessment checklist [DOCX, 15 KB] - A form to print and hand out to event attendees to help them evaluate what they have done and what they are going to do.

Digital action agenda - Two sample agendas for your event:

an event for 20 attendees [DOCX, 17 KB] 

an event for 50 attendees [DOCX, 17 KB].

Speaker guide for expert speakers [DOCX, 19 KB] - suggestions for how to structure your talk.

Speaker guide for peer to peer speakers [DOCX, 18 KB] - suggestions for how to structure your talk.

Digital Personas [PDF, 1.1 MB] these help you tailor your events and programmes to the four different digital personalities that small businesses adopt.

Emergent digital journey map [PDF, 120 KB] - an illustration of the main steps a small business goes through during their digital development.

We’d like to know how you have used the toolkit, what areas you find most useful, areas that are irrelevant and items you would like more information on. Email the toolkit team at with your suggestions and questions.

What's next?

You can build your event programme using the key findings from the pilot, to help small businesses to improve their business productivity through digital technology. As a start, you could use one of your regular networking sessions to find out what aspects of digital uptake your members/audience are most interested in and then plan a further networking session on upskilling in this/these digital area(s).

MBIE is continuing to work with tourism, construction and arable farming sector partners to progress the sector-specific digital opportunities identified in the pilot. This includes the demonstration arable farm(external link) where MBIE are partnering with the Internet of Things (IoT) Alliance(external link), the Foundation for Arable Research(external link) and others to demonstrate the impact of using digital tools (such as water and nutrient sensors and data analytics) on arable farming operations. We are also testing some of the ideas prioritised by trusted intermediaries as part of the pilot, such as better connecting them and small businesses with reputable digital experts. link) is also using the findings from the pilot to inform the tools and initiatives being developed for small businesses.

The pilot revealed a number of wider policy opportunities that may help lift small business digital capability. For example, integrating digital capability initiatives with those that aim to lift small business capability in general; connecting existing programmes helping small businesses; and improving the ways industry and regional networks support small business digital development. We will share these insights and investigate opportunities to advance these areas further.