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8129.0 - Business Use of Information Technology, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/08/2013   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This release presents detailed findings on the incidence of use of information technology in Australia business as collected by the 2011-12 Business Characteristics Survey (BCS).

2 The BCS is an annual survey and it is the vehicle for the ABS' Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS). The strategy integrates the collection and quality assurance of data required for input into both the ABS' Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) and the production of point in time estimates for: use of information technology; innovation; and a broad range of other non-financial characteristics.

3 A key part of the IBCS is the production of annual use of information technology and innovation indicators, with a more detailed set of items for each of these topics collected every second year (i.e. in alternating years). The 2011-12 BCS collected detailed information relating to the use of information technology by Australian businesses. These data were last collected for the 2009-10 reference period.


STATISTICAL UNITS USED

4 Statistical units are those entities from which statistics are collected, or about which statistics are compiled. In ABS economic statistics, the statistical unit is generally the business. The ABS Business Register (ABSBR) is used to record information about statistical units and is used to create the frames for most ABS economic collections.

5 This units model allocates businesses to one of two sub-populations:

  • Businesses with a simple structure - Most businesses and organisations in Australia need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN). They are then included on the whole-of-government register of businesses, the Australian Business Register (ABR), which is maintained by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Most of these businesses have simple structures; therefore, the unit registered for an ABN will satisfy ABS statistical requirements. For these businesses, the ABS has aligned its statistical units structure with the ABN unit. The businesses with simple structures constitute the ATO maintained population (ATOMP), and the ABN unit is used as the statistical unit for all ABS economic collections.
  • Businesses with a complex structure - For the population of businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical requirements, the ABS maintains its own units structure through direct contact with the business. These businesses constitute the ABS maintained population (ABSMP). This population consists typically of large, complex and diverse businesses. For businesses in the ABSMP, statistical units comprise the Enterprise Group, the Enterprise and the Type of Activity Unit (TAU). The range of activities across the Enterprise Group can be very diverse. The TAU represents a grouping of one or more business entities within the Enterprise that cover all of the operations within an industry subdivision and for which a basic set of financial data, production and employment can be reported.

6 Together these two sub-populations (of ABN units and TAUs) make up the ABSBR population, from which the BCS sample is taken.

7 The current economic statistics units model was introduced into the ABS in mid 2002, to better use the information available as a result of The New Tax System (TNTS). For more information please refer to Information Paper: Improvements in ABS Economic Statistics - [Arising from the New Tax System], (cat. no. 1372.0).


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

8 The businesses that contribute to the statistics in this publication are classified

by institutional sector, in accordance with the Standard Institutional Sector Classification of Australia (SISCA), which is detailed in Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) (cat. no. 1218.0);
and by industry, in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 edition (cat. no. 1292.0).

9 The scope of the estimates in this publication consists of all business entities which operate in the market sector of the Australian economy, except for:

SISCA 3000 General government
      SISCA 6000 Rest of the world
      ANZSIC06 Division O Public administration and safety
      ANZSIC06 Division P Education and training
      ANZSIC06 Groups 624 (Financial asset investing) and 633 (Superannuation funds)
      ANZSIC06 Groups 854 (Religious services) and 955 (Civic, professional and other interest group services)
      ANZSIC06 Subdivision 96 Private households employing staff

10 As part of the final stages of implementation of the IBCS, the scope of the point in time estimates was changed in 2009-10 and expanded to include employing businesses in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. As a result, data within this release are not directly comparable to releases prior to 2009-10.

11 The frame for the BCS is a subset of the ABS Business Register and includes employing businesses only. These are defined as those businesses which register for the ATO's Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYGW) scheme. It is not unusual for some of these 'employing businesses' to have zero employment at various times during the reporting period. The frame is updated quarterly to take account of new businesses, businesses which have ceased employing, changes in employment levels, changes in industry and other general business changes. Businesses which have ceased employing are identified when the ATO cancels their Australian Business Number (ABN) and/or PAYGW registration. In addition, businesses with less than 50 employees, which did not remit under the PAYGW scheme in each of the previous five quarters, are removed from the frame. The estimates in this publication include an allowance for the time it takes a newly registered business to be included in the survey frame.


SURVEY METHODOLOGY

12 The sample design for this survey is complex due to serving two purposes: collection of characteristics data for the ABS' BLD; and production of point in time estimates. While there are scope differences between the BLD and point in time estimates, the intention is to maximise the number of businesses selected for which data collected can contribute to both purposes. More information about releases for the BLD is provided in Explanatory Note 25. For more information about the survey design or methodology for the BCS, please email your query to innovation.technology@abs.gov.au.

13 Collection of data included in this release was undertaken based on a random sample of approximately 6,500 businesses using a mail-out questionnaire. The sample was stratified by industry and an employment-based size indicator. All businesses on the ABSBR identified as having 300 or more employees were included in the sample. The 2011-12 BCS was dispatched in late October 2012.

14 The sample design of the 2011-12 BCS does not include state or territory as part of stratification design.


REFERENCE PERIOD

15 The reference period for most of the characteristics items included in the 2011-12 BCS is the year ended 30 June 2012 or at 30 June 2012. Financial data relates to the most recent financial year ended on or before 30 September 2012.


DEFINING "INTERNET COMMERCE"

16 In the BCS (and previous BUIT surveys), the ABS uses the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) narrow definition of e-commerce transactions when collecting data on internet orders and internet income. The narrow definition states that "an internet transaction is the sale or purchase of goods or services, whether between businesses, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations, conducted over the internet. The goods and services are ordered over the internet, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the good or service may be conducted on or off-line" (i.e., the commitment to purchase is made over the internet). In Australia, orders placed or received via email are included. This is not the case in many other OECD countries. The broad definition of e-commerce transactions includes sale or purchase of goods or services conducted via any computer-mediated networks. This mode of e-commerce is not common in Australia.

17 Internet income is defined as income resulting from goods and services ordered over the internet where the commitment to purchase is via the internet. Excluded from these measures are orders, payments or transactions for which the commitment has been made using other arrangements. The ABS collects these data by asking businesses to estimate what percentage of their income from sales of goods and/or services can be attributed to orders received via the internet. The estimated value of internet income is derived by applying the percentage to business income from sales of goods and/or services. This method of collecting internet income has been put in place to address reporting errors previously observed when the actual dollar figure was requested.


BUSINESS COUNTS IN THIS RELEASE AND COMPARABILITY WITH OTHERS PUBLISHED BY THE ABS

18 Estimates of the number of businesses operating in Australia can be derived from a number of sources within the ABS. They may relate to a particular point in time or may be presented as an average annual figure. However, these estimates will not always show the same results. Variations will occur because of differing data sources, differing scope and coverage definitions between surveys, as well as variations due to sampling and non-sampling error. More information about business counts can be found in the information paper A Statistical View of Counts of Businesses in Australia (cat. no. 8162.0).

19 The BCS is not designed to provide high quality estimates of numbers of businesses for any of the output classifications (for example, employment size or industry) and the number of businesses in this publication are only included to provide contextual information for the user. The estimate of the total number of businesses may not equal to the sum of each employment size range due to rounding of business counts to the nearest thousand. A more robust source of counts of Australian businesses is available from Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits, Jun 2007 to Jun 2009 (cat. no. 8165.0).


OUTPUT CLASSIFICATIONS

20 For output purposes, businesses are classified to employment size ranges based on actual data reported in the survey. For industry output, the classification is drawn from information held about the business on the ABSBR.


AVAILABILITY OF STATE/TERRITORY OUTPUTS

21 As indicated in Explanatory Note 14, the sample is designed to produce efficient estimates for industry and employment size, therefore it does not provide quality estimates for states/territories. As estimates change over time for a selected state/territory or adequately enable comparison between states/territories, they are not available.


UPCOMING RELATED RELEASES

22 The final data release from the 2011-12 Business Characteristics Survey is Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2011-12 (cat. no. 8167.0), which will include summary characteristics data for a selection of topics including business structure and arrangements, performance measures, barriers to innovation and general business activities or performance, government financial assistance, finance sought, markets and competition, innovation rates and IT usage. Online content will include tables and graphs with associated commentary. Detailed data (including some output cross-classified by business size, industry and innovator status) will be output as data cubes. This release is scheduled for 19 September 2013. The most recent issue of this release is Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2009-10 (cat. no. 8167.0).

MOST RECENT RELATED RELEASES

23 The most recent issue of ABS releases related to demography of Australian business is:

24 The most recent issues of other ABS releases on the use and production of ICT in Australia are:

BUSINESS LONGITUDINAL DATABASE - CONFIDENTIALISED UNIT RECORD FILE

25 The primary outputs from the BLD will be a suite of Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs). The BLD design is comprised of panels (or waves) with each panel representing the entire population of in-scope small and medium businesses at the time of initialisation. Each panel is surveyed for five years. The most recent edition of the BLD CURF was released 18 June 2013 and contained the full five years of data for Panel Three (2006-11). The CURF is available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory which can be access via the ABS website (cat. no. 8168.0.55.001).


ABS WEBSITE

26 Other information relating to Information Technology (both supply and demand), innovation and characteristics of business, particularly updates about additional analytical work can be found on the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>; see the Innovation, Science and Technology Home page under Themes/Industry. Readers can also subscribe to the six monthly Innovation and Technology Update (cat. no. 8101.0).


ROUNDING AND OTHER ADJUSTMENTS TO OUTPUTS

27 Estimates of proportions have been calculated using unrounded figures, but are shown in the tables rounded to one tenth of a percentage point. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the component items and the total. Figures presented in the commentary have been rounded to the whole percentage.

COMMENTS

28 The ABS welcomes comments and suggestions from users regarding business characteristics including IT and innovation statistics. These comments should be addressed to the Director, Innovation and Technology Statistics Branch, Australian Bureau of Statistics, GPO Box K881, Perth, WA, 6842, or email innovation.technology@abs.gov.au.


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