The research highlighted a number of areas in which SMEs could make better use of technology to manage and grow their business. It showed that most SMEs are not exploiting technology to its full potential, with only a third (35%) reporting that they have used the web to generate business and only 28% saying that investment in IT has helped them develop new markets.
Yet two-thirds of small businesses (61%) admitted they would not be able to operate without their current level of investment in IT and almost half recognised that spending technology was vital if their business was to remain competitive. Almost half of those surveyed (47%) said using IT had helped them cut costs.
A quarter of SMEs say they find it hard to keep pace with technological change. Some 13% still do not use email, 30% have yet to use the internet as a source of information, and just 47% believe that such technology has improved working life. Also, 18% believe that technology has taken the 'personal touch' out of working relationships.
The survey also showed that 19% do not yet have a broadband connection, 38% do not use computerised databases or mailing lists and 58% do not use IT for presentations
Stephen Pegge, head of communications, Lloyds TSB Business, says, "If [SMEs] fail to invest for the future, they may not meet customers' expectations and could find they are soon overtaken by more efficient and more productive competitors. It's part of our responsibility as a bank to help [SMEs] make the best use of technology to maximise their potential."