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UK productivity hit as SMEs fail to exploit new technology

Daniel Thomas
UK productivity is under threat because small and medium-sized companies are failing to exploit the benefits of technology, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

At a time when UK productivity lags behind other European Union countries, the findings will raise concerns that unless UK firms maximise the potential of IT and e-business they will fail to compete in a global market, the BCC said.

Last week, the Department of Trade & Industry said the UK's ambition to be a leading e-commerce nation was under threat because small retailers were lagging behind their larger counterparts in the take-up and use of e-commerce.

The BCC, which represents more than 135,000 businesses, called on the Government to provide more support to help firms make the most of technology. Later this year the BCC will issue a series of recommendations on ways the Government could boost the use of IT and e-business.

The survey, which questioned 2,500 UK-based business managers, found that, although most firms now have some sort of Web site, about 33% have either not updated their site since it was set up or have not done so in the past year. As a result, more than half of all businesses responding to the survey have not seen an increase in sales leads from their Web sites, the BCC said.

Many companies are also lagging behind in IT training, the survey found. Some 40% of small companies surveyed have not provided any IT training for staff in the past two years, while about 50% of all businesses have provided IT training to only 25% of their workforce.

Isabella Moore, president elect of the BCC, said, "The message is that work still needs to be done to enable UK businesses to gain maximum advantage over their competitors and succeed in the global marketplace."

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