Government must drive SMEs to take up broadband


Government must drive SMEs to take up broadband

Jennifer Scott

The government must further encourage SMEs to adopt broadband and the services high-speed connections bring to stop smaller companies falling behind with technology.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group today published a report claiming SMEs in the UK could see economic benefits of up £18.8bn a year by boosting their digital capabilities. However, it found many of these smaller firms were not proactively seeking new solutions to further their businesses.  

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“SMEs don’t naturally and intuitively see the benefits of technology,” said Pamela Learmonth, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder Group. “They are busy people with a lot on their plates and the person doing IT is often doing everything else as well.”

“They just don’t always have the time and money to invest in something when they are not sure of its worth.”

As a result, the Group has called on government to drive forward the adoption of faster broadband and new applications, which it believes will benefit SMEs across the country.

BSG published five recommendations alongside its report outlining how it believes this can be achieved.

  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should extend its bi-annual small business survey to include more questions around broadband and applications
  • A new online platform should be built to showcase case studies from other SMEs of how well they have been served by upgrading their technology.
  • The technology industry and government should work more closely to understand how SMEs can benefit from such solutions
  • The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) should strengthen central resource within Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to assist local authorities with demand stimulation activity
  • Government should look to drive SME usage and uptake through its engagement with SMEs through government services

Learmonth admitted there were still issues when it came to critical infrastructure, especially around the BDUK project, but believed the continued focus on the build out has let problems around demand, take-up and usage fall by the wayside.

“SMEs get a lot of attention from the government more broadly, especially in this economic climate, but there is quite a lot of evidence that this size of company lags behind when it comes to digital adoption,” she said.

“We think there needs to be a better understanding of what SMEs are doing with technology and what they are not doing. The government and industry should get together to do more on persuading SMEs of the benefits of such technologies.”

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