IT-friendly SMEs suffered less in the recession that firms that dismissed IT by a margin of two to one, the country's biggest study of the impact of the recession on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) has found.
The study of 7,200 UK SME decision makers by Vanson Bourne for BT, found that companies with a positive attitude to using technology had a better than average experience of the recession that technology laggards by 69% to 34%.
Mick Hegarty, head of BT Business, which published the results this morning as part of its sponsorship of Small Business Week, said a company was twice as like to increase turnover by more than 10% if it had a positive attitude to technology than those that didn't.
Technology helped firms save money (30%), network and find advice (32%), and find new customers (28%).
Smaller firms were starting to use social networking extensively, while larger, older firms felt faster broadband speeds had helped their businesses.
Larger SMEs were also keen to converge their communications media such as voicemail, e-mail, and text into a single system.
London and the North East were most advanced in their use of IT, while the South West was the least keen on IT. Yorkshire and Humberside didn't think IT could contribute to their businesses at all.
Londoners and smaller SMEs were keenest on social networking. "Last year social media hardly featured on small businesses' agenda," researchers said.
Women were less likely than men to adopt IT, with 35% saying they would bring in it "only if we have to" compares to 25% of men. More women than men said their businesses had suffered in the recession. They also felt they had been hit harder.
But more women than men saw the value of social networking as a business tool by 22% to 17%.
The study also revealed a digital age gap. Under 30s saw cutting edge IT as vital to their businesses compare to 35% of those over 46. Where younger bosses went for mobile technologies to be independent of location and for social networking, older ones said they wanted faster broadband.