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8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update, Feb 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/2010   
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2 BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS STATISTICS

2.1 BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS SURVEY - BACKGROUND

2.2 INTEGRATED BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS STRATEGY
2.3 BUSINESS LONGITUDINAL DATABASE (BLD) CONFIDENTIALISED UNIT RECORD FILE
2.4 RECENT RELEASES

2.4.1 Key Indicators of IT use and Innovation
2.4.2 Business Use of Information Technology
2.4.3 Innovation in Australian Business
2.4.4 Selected Characteristics of Australian Business
2.5 DEVELOPMENTS IN INNOVATION RELATED STATISTICS
2.5.1 ABS Innovation Reference Group
2.5.2 Analytical Projects on the BLD
2.5.3 Recently Released Papers

2.1 BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS SURVEY - BACKGROUND

The Business Characteristics Survey is used to collect statistics related to innovation and use of information technology in Australian businesses. This survey also collects a range of broader indicators related to the practices of Australian businesses which are used in populating the Business Longitudinal Database. Key indicators for innovation and use of information technology in Australian businesses are collected annually and more detailed information for each of these topics is collected on an alternating basis (i.e. every second year).

2.2 INTEGRATED BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS STRATEGY

Background to IBCS

The
Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS) was first implemented for the 2005/06 reference year.

The IBCS strategy serves two main purposes:

  • to reduce overall survey respondent burden, and,
  • to increase the integration between estimates, at a point in time, with longitudinal microdata to facilitate a better understanding of the factors which are associated with macro-level change.

The IBCS integrates the collection and processing of data for:
  • the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD);
  • the Innovation Survey, and;
  • the Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) Survey.

The primary purpose of the BLD is to facilitate analysis to inform users about policy issues related to business growth and performance.
As part of the IBCS strategy, detailed outputs for innovation and information and communication technology (ICT) use are collected in alternate years with key indicators for each reported annually.

IBCS Review

The ABS has recently commenced an internal review of the IBCS. This review, expected to be finalised by December 2010, will cover the scope, content, collection methodology, and quality of data captured from its suite of existing collection instruments, and administrative sources.

It is particularly relevant to conduct a review of the IBCS in 2009-10 at this time when there are a number of emerging and changing information requirements for innovation and technology data reflecting a number of new government initiatives.

These include:

One of the main objectives of this review is to broaden user engagement to ensure that the statistical information collected via the IBCS continues to remain relevant to a wide readership including policy decision makers, businesses, micro and macro-economic analysts and researchers.

Please contact Ms Diane Braskic, Innovation and Technology BSC, ABS on (08) 9360 5241 or
diane.braskic@abs.gov.au if you wish to participate in user discussion forums or require any further information about the IBCS review.

2.3 BUSINESS LONGITUDINAL DATABASE (BLD) CONFIDENTIALISED UNIT RECORD FILE


When fully established, the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) will contain a range of data (both financial and other characteristics) for small and medium businesses in Australia over a five year period. To date, the BLD includes three years worth of data. The BLD is a new and valuable resource that will allow analysts to monitor and evaluate the impacts of policies and industry trends on Australian businesses at the individual business level.


The BLD demonstrates how Australia is improving the quality of information to inform research and policy, without compromising on issues such as privacy and additional survey burden.

The BLD complements the large range of ABS macro-economic outputs and meets very strong demand from government, academics and private users for micro-economic data. It will increase understanding of:
  • the activities or factors that are relevant to business performance; and
  • the business characteristics that are associated with these activities or factors.

The BLD is available for research purposes through a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF), which is released with the approval of the Australian Statistician. To ensure microdata confidentiality is maintained, access is managed in a unique virtual environment, the Remote Access Data Laboratory. Further information is available at the CURF Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

2.4 RECENT RELEASES


2.4.1 Key Indicators of IT use and Innovation
The latest issue of Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8166.0) was released on 25 June 2009. This release includes key annual innovation indicators. The next release of this publication will be in June 2010.

2.4.2 Business Use of Information Technology
The latest issue of Business Use of Information Technology, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8129.0) was released on 20 August 2009. Key findings included the fact that while rates of Internet access amongst businesses had remained fairly constant, the proportion of businesses with a broadband connection continued to rise from 90% to 94%. Additionally, while the proportion of businesses receiving orders via the Internet or web remained relatively steady, the income resulting from orders received over the Internet or web increased approximately $13 billion, a 20% increase from 2006-07, to $81 billion. The ABS collects Business Use of Information Technology statistics on a biennial basis and the next release of this publication is expected to be in August 2011.

2.4.3 Innovation in Australian Business
The latest issue of Innovation in Australian Business, 2006-07 (cat. no. 8158.0) was released on 22 August 2008. This release is a combination of web based information and data cubes, and reveals that 37% of Australian businesses were engaged in innovation activity in 2006-07. The next release of Innovation in Australian Business will be in August 2010.

2.4.4 Selected Characteristics of Australian Business
The most recent issue of the publication, Selected Characteristics of Australian Businesses, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8167.0), was released on 17 September 2009. Key findings of the 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey showed that a lack of skilled persons, at 21%, was the most commonly reported barrier to general business activities or performance while just over half of all businesses (52%) reported the Australian general public as their main source of income. This release presents summary data for a selection of topics including: business structure and arrangements; business markets and competition; business finance; business use of information technology; business innovation; business performance; barriers to business activities or performance; and skills. There are two components to this release: summary information and datacubes. The datacubes contain the detailed data that underpins the tables and commentary. Many of the datacubes present data cross-classified by innovator status and industry by employment size. The next release of this publication is expected to be in September 2010.

For more information about business characteristics outputs (including BUIT, Innovation and general business characteristics), please contact Peter Hodgson, Innovation and Technology Business Statistics Centre, ABS on (08) 9360 5367 or peter.hodgson@abs.gov.au .

2.5 DEVELOPMENTS IN INNOVATION STATISTICS

2.5.1 ABS Innovation Reference Group

The Innovation Reference Group, which provides advice to the ABS on innovation issues, including research and experimental development, convened at ABS on 18 November 2009. Members from the following key stakeholder organisations participated in the meeting: Dept of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR), Dept of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Dept of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (DAFF), Commonwealth State and Territory Advisory Council on Innovation (CSTACI), Productivity Commission, CSIRO, Australian Innovation Research Centre and Universities Australia.

Topics discussed included:
  • an overview of the Australian Innovation Measurement Framework;
  • the scope and contents of the initial BLD CURF;
  • information and communication technology as an enabler of innovation;
  • Australia's new Research & Development tax concession scheme; and
  • ABS analytical projects utilising BLD.

The next Innovation Reference Group meeting will be held on 13 April 2010.


2.5.2 Analytical Projects on the BLD

The BLD complements the large range of ABS macro-economic outputs and meets very strong demand from government, academics and private users for micro-economic data. One of its main aims is to facilitate the analysis of micro level (unit record data) to better measure business performance and the dynamics of small and medium-sized Australian businesses. This understanding of the drivers of business performance will in turn contribute to the development and evidenced based evaluation of government policies designed to promote the growth and improved performance of businesses.

Several longitudinal analytical projects have been completed within the ABS' Economic Analysis and Reporting, and Analytical Services branches, within the last eighteen months. These projects have utilised the full range of unconfidentialised BLD unit record data plus additional business taxation records and related financial information collected in other ABS business surveys.

Topics for recent projects have included:

  • the association between business characteristics and performance;
  • innovation propensity and its dimensions;
  • exporter behaviour of Australian SMEs; and
  • ICT as an enabler of business innovation and performance.

Inter-agency Collaborations

As advised in the last newsletter, ABS and the Productivity Commission are undertaking a joint collaboration titled A Microdata Analysis of Competition, Innovation and Productivity. Work on the project commenced in August 2009 and is scheduled for completion in May 2010.

ABS has also commenced some longitudinal analysis on food industry specific businesses for DAFF. This project is expected to be completed by June 2010 and will use BLD CURF data only.

2.5.3 Recently Released Papers

Four BLD related articles have been published in recent editions of the Australian Economic Indicators (ABS Cat No 1350.0)

An Introduction to the Business Longitudinal Database (Jan 2010)

Characteristics and Performance of Small and Medium-sized Businesses in Australia (Jan 2010)

Business Characteristics of Small and Medium-sized Australian Exporters (Jan 2010)

Feature Article: Portraits of Australian Businesses 2005-06 and 2006-07 (Feb 2010).


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