2023 ‘Regional Growth’ Category Winner

Moreton Bay Regional Council, QLD

Ask Morty: Data Concierge

The Initiative

Small business owners have never been under more pressure. Natural disasters, pandemics and inflation at a 30 year high have all impacted their workload and profitability. They are often resource and time poor – working on the business is not possible as they are fully occupied working in the business.

So how do they plan for the future? How do they find time and information in a complicated information overloaded environment that will help them grow their business? How do they get answers to questions that Google can’t answer?

With 97 percent of our 30,000 business being micro or small and facing such pressures, Moreton Bay Regional Council took its Small Business Friendly Council obligations to a new level by providing a small business solution that puts useable data in their hands.

Council partnered with TechConnect IT Solutions to develop Ask Morty, a free automated data concierge service. This chatbot takes complex 2021 Australian Census data and Queensland Government population projections and provides easy-to-use curated demographic data. Ask Morty identifies the suburbs in the region with the largest number of people that match the key characteristics of a business’s current or future target markets, such as age, gender, home ownership, work status and industry, and income levels.

The chatbot’s easy customer interaction, simple question and answer design, and instant results make it an accessible and valuable tool for any small business. No data literacy or technical skill is required.

Since its launch on 26 September 2022, Ask Morty has been:

  • accessed more than 3,500 times (potentially all individual companies);
  • adopted as a course resource for a University Business Planning program;
  • promoted by local chambers and industry groups to approximately 1000 members; and
  • commended by the Queensland Small Business Commissioner as a shining
    example of a Council being small business friendly.

Everyone says that small business is the lifeblood of the Australian economy, but only Moreton Bay Regional Council is helping small businesses make evidence-based business decisions and better plan for growth by putting the power back in their hands.

About the Category

The ‘Regional Growth’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • improve the liveability of a region and take advantage of region-specific opportunities;
  • empower vibrant and connected regional communities that promote diversity and inclusion; and/or
  • strengthen investment and development opportunities, share resources, build local capability, and create jobs.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • improving productivity, employment and workforce skills through the regions;
  • valuing, protecting and promoting diversity, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, cultures and traditions; and/or
  • fostering the development of self-reliant communities and regions with strong economic futures.

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