8166.0 - Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/06/2009   
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The statistics presented in this release are compiled from the 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey. The Business Characteristics Survey provides population/cross sectional estimates for a range of business characteristics topics and themes (eg, use of IT and Innovation). The survey also provides characteristics data for the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD). The Business Characteristics Survey is conducted under the authority of the
Census and Statistics Act 1905.

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see
ABS Institutional Environment.


The Integrated Business Characteristics Strategy (IBCS) is the strategy for bringing together the collection of business characteristics statistics. There are two types of outputs - macro and micro. The Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) is the survey instrument for the IBCS. Macro outputs are the population or cross-sectional estimates and include general business characteristics, Business Use of Information Technology (BUIT) and Innovation; these are collectively referred to as Business Characteristics. The micro output will be the Business Longitudinal Database (BLD) in the form of a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF); this will include business characteristics (unit record data collected as part of the BCS) and financial data from principally administrative sources.

The IBCS specifies the collection of annual core characteristics data including key indicators of IT use and Innovation with detailed information collected for these two topics in alternating years. The BCS aims to collect key measures on business characteristics to develop more relevant and effective government industry policies, supporting the Australian businesses particularly, the small and medium businesses. The data collected will support the BLD and will be used to build a statistical longitudinal database for public and private sector analysts. It is aimed to provide users with business characteristics data augmented with financial data from administrative sources and other existing ABS surveys.

Population and cross-classified outputs can be produced for most BCS content not just BUIT and Innovation. The much larger volume of characteristics data (particularly, annual indicators of innovation and the ability to produce cross-classified outputs) has expanded the range of information available about Australian business. These additional outputs, as well as the BLD CURF (and other analytical outputs) when released, will result in a substantial increase in the nature and volume of these types of information.


The reference period for most of the characteristics items included in the 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey is the year ended 30 June 2008. Financial data relates to the most recent financial year ended on or before 30 September 2008.

The 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey forms were mailed to businesses in early November 2008. Key indicators related to IT Use and Innovation in Australian business are published within 12 months of the end of the reference period. Subsequent, and more detailed, releases are published in the 3-4 months after the first release.


The ABS aims to produce high quality data from its industry collections, while minimising the reporting burden on businesses. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into survey and questionnaire design, collection procedures and processing.

The 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey had a response rate of
96%. Some of the items collected in the Business Characteristics Survey are dynamic in nature and the concepts measured are subject to evolution and refinement over time. As changes are made to the questions, survey scope and survey procedures; it is not possible to measure the impact of all of these changes on data quality.

In this publication, indications of sampling variability are measured by relative standard errors (RSEs). The relative standard error is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to sampling, and thus avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate. To annotate proportion estimates a value of 50% has been used in the calculation of RSE rather than the estimated proportion from the survey data. This avoids inconsistencies between the way very low and very high proportions are annotated. Relative standard errors for estimates in this publication have been calculated using the actual standard error and the survey estimate (referred to as x) in the following manner: RSE%(x) = (SE(x)*100)/50

For more information about the sampling errors, please refer to the Technical Note for this release.


There are established international frameworks or reporting models for the collection of BUIT and Innovation data (i.e.
OECD model questionnaire and OECD OSLO manual respectively). The application of these in ABS collections is in the context of the Australian situation and, for some elements, it is not appropriate to adhere to the framework. Similarly, suggested question wording has only ever been used as a starting point. In this context, where possible these frameworks are used in the BCS. However, some compromise with the use of established frameworks and concepts to balance BLD and BCS population estimate requirements with the available resources is also required. The System of National Accounts and the Australian Accounting Standards are used for directly collected or administrative data as appropriate.

The survey uses Standard Question Wording (which are used in most ABS economic business-based collections) to collect standard financial data items. A core set of characteristics questions is being developed.


Further information on the technical aspects (including item definitions) associated with the statistics from the Business Characteristics Survey can be found in the Explanatory Notes and Glossary associated with this release.


Outputs from the 2007-08 Business Characteristics Survey will be available in the following suite of electronic releases and associated data cubes:

  • Key indicators release Summary of IT Use and Innovation in Australian Business, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8166.0);
  • Detailed BUIT release Business Use of Information Technology, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8129.0); and
  • Detailed business characteristics release Selected Characteristics of Australian Business, 2007-08 (cat. no. 8167.0). This release includes summary characteristics data for a selection of topics including business cooperative arrangements, performance measures, barriers, government financial assistance, finance sought, markets and competition, innovation rates and IT usage.

    These are available free of charge from the ABS website. Included in the data cubes is the full extent of releasable data from the 2007-08 Business Characteristics survey.