Report finds UK SMEs miss out on billions through digital ignorance

A recent study has found that just under half of UK based SMEs don't use their website to generate leads, and over a quarter don't have a website at all.

The divide between British SMEs' digital ability and understanding of how to use the Internet as a business tool is thought to have caused slower growth than expected.

The report found that 13 per cent of UK SMEs had no plans to build a website and 35 per cent felt that they didn't have the necessary social media skills to grow their business. Alarmingly, when asked "If you were confident that you had the best digital technology on the market within your business... how much staff time do you estimate you would save per day?" as many as 24 per cent said it would save no time at all.

However, the report did find that businesses were optimistic about the future of enterprise tech, with 60 per cent of businesses saying that their investment in digital technology will increase by a minimum of 20 per cent or over, in the next five years. Furthermore 31 per cent of medium sized businesses consider developing a strong IT infrastructure a top priority.

The report drew comment from Ed Vaizey, minister for culture and the digital economy who urged "as many people as possible to get online and get the most out of the internet." Vaizey went on to say "Research shows that companies that embrace technology will grow faster, export and create more jobs," and announced several Government initiatives to provide digital education for SMEs.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, also reflected on the findings "The way we do business has been transformed and trade online is growing at around 20% a year, so it's now not just a case of making the most of an opportunity for your business, it is crucial for business survival."