With many Kiwi small business owners feeling overwhelmed by the sudden need to be digitally prepared during the pandemic, the New Zealand Government's Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) identified a clear need to launch Digital Boost — a programme focused on accelerating the digitalisation of Kiwi small businesses.

A core part of the Digital Boost programme is the user-friendly, centralised and dynamic skills training and support platform.

Taught by trusted experts, the Digital Boost skills training and support initiative has been designed to support small businesses at every stage of their digital journey, including embracing the benefits of social media, websites, mobile, cloud accounting, productivity software, and search engines.

Unlocking the power of digital for small business

As a leading tertiary education provider trusted by thousands of educators and professionals across New Zealand, The Mind Lab was chosen by MBIE as its key learning delivery partner to lead a consortium of providers in bringing Digital Boost to life, supported by Datacom and Salesforce.

The Mind Lab’s chief executive officer (CEO) Frances Valintine shared her vision for the online Digital Boost experience: "Learning delivery modes have shifted significantly from the days of attending face to face sessions. Digital Boost is an online, video-based platform allowing for personal learning journeys that connects business owners to relevant content and information."

"User journeys and the learning experience are critical components of any online learning delivery. Digital Boost is built on best-practice in the contemporary world of education.”

With a rapid development timeframe of under two months, the project required agile development sprints and collaboration to coordinate all the elements. This included creating hundreds of videos, developing a comprehensive learning platform and website, and providing personalised and tailored content to subscribers.

The Digital Boost platform also needed to integrate directly with the government’s New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) to sync business details and provide live customer support through Salesforce Service Cloud.

Personalised training and support platform

In the ten months since its launch in January 2021, Digital Boost has had more than 40,000 business owners, business starters and employees sign-up to access and learn from the extensive resources on the platform.

“Every day, we're creating and adding new content. We already have over 300 videos and subscribers have access to case studies, Q&A sessions, interviews, webinars, and how-to articles.

"We also run personal one-on-one support. Whether it’s live chat, email, or a phone or video call, our expert team is available from 7am to 7pm, five days a week. So, for example, if people are struggling to set up a Facebook page or a Google ad, we can step through the process with them and/or point them to the best resources.”

All these interactions, as well as questions answered via social media, are tracked through Salesforce so that the team can centralise its responses and provide continuity.

Boost to bilingual content

During Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Digital Boost launched the integration of te reo Māori into the skills training platform, with the aim of making the training content more accessible and relevant to Māori business owners while honouring te reo for all New Zealanders.

The site now has over 90 educational videos in te reo, with the option for English subtitles, and the majority of menus and instructions on the site have been translated.

Datacom helped bring this bilingual experience to life through Salesforce.

"The long-term goal of Digital Boost is to upskill Kiwi business owners and their employees and continue to inspire and support them at every stage of their digitalisation journey," says Frances.

"We're busy working on new content — including more advanced tutorials — to keep businesses up to date and at the forefront of digital tools.”

“We’re really proud to be part of this collaborative MBIE initiative. It’s so rewarding to hear the feedback from people about how Digital Boost is meaningfully improving their businesses and lives.

“Partnering with Datacom and Salesforce allowed us to focus on this, while they added the extra technical specialisation we needed to develop a bespoke tech stack and user experience.”

Datacom's project lead and Salesforce business manager Sam Halligan says from the outset the team's focus was on helping build a platform that was really intuitive for users and could adapt and grow as new content was added.

"It's really rewarding to see how many small businesses are using Digital Boost now and getting access to insights to build their digital skills.”

To make this on-the-go digital education more easily accessible, a new Digital Boost Live app has recently been launched.

The Digital Boost Live app is an extension of digitalboost.co.nz, with added features such as a real-time view of learning progress, podcasts, push notifications and a single sign-on.

MBIE’s Digital Boost Director Malcolm Luey says the latest research on the impacts for business owners participating in the skills training showed that 20% more small businesses now have a website since Digital Boost launched in early 2021.

“We know the content is resonating. And now we want to make that content accessible to people who work more from their mobile devices. Digital Boost Live is designed to work for busy small business operators who need up-to-date digital information in the palm of their hand.”

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