Brtish SMEs need to, quite literally, get with the programme or risk jeopardising their future growth prospects. That’s the damning verdict of a new report from Lloyds Bank.
The UK Business Digital Index, published in association with Accenture and Go ON UK today, shows that some SMEs fail to understand the benefits of digital technology and are reluctant to develop their digital skills – something that could prove detrimental to their future success. The results reveal:
- Only 50% of UK businesses have a website, with those that do only providing basic functionality.
- A third of businesses are without basic online skills and 75% don’t invest any money in improving digital skills.
- Over one in ten do not have access to the internet
- Just one in five allow customers to purchase goods or services from their site
- A measly 4% can take payment in different currencies online (so much for exports!)
Other interesting data from the Index includes the revelation that 29% of those surveyed claim that being online isn’t relevant to them, whereas a worryingly whopping 74% see further digital development as irrelevant.
Additional reasons organisations gave for not doing more to develop their digital skills were:
- Not having the time (14%)
- Absence of relevant skills (11%)
- Lack of interest (10%)
- Belief that digital is not worth the investment (7%)
- Security concerns (5%)
The newly launched UK Business Digital Index tracks the use of digital technology among businesses and charities by looking at key practices including the use of social media, online sales, internet security, digital advertising and the level of online competency; all data is collated by consumer surveys and analysis and will be published on an annual basis going forward.
The report itself provides a ‘benchmark’ score to show the extent of digital skills for SMEs, as well as charities, of different sizes within different sectors and regions throughout the UK. It also provides a scored system, with 100 being average; anything north of that figure shows some digital competency, whereas anything below shows that a company is less technically savvy and may depend on more traditional, antiquated methods to run the business.
It may come as no shock to find, then, that companies established for more than ten years scored below 100, with an average of 93 points, whereas newer companies established within the past year are storming it with 109.
“Most businesses do use digital technology in some shape or form,” said Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola, group director for digital, marketing & customer development at Lloyds Banking Group. “However there is a real blind spot for many firms who are doing the basics but can’t see the benefits of doing more.
“Businesses that are willing to invest for the long term could reap huge rewards from digital technology. Some of the benefits are quick wins, but businesses that really do focus on making digital technology a priority may even find that they can capitalise more easily on growth opportunities and that their confidence continues to rise.”