What is the digital economy?

What does the move to a digital economy mean for SMEs?

Rapid change in the economy

The move to the digital economy is happening rapidly

Key Digital Requirements

New skills, new processes and new ways of thinking


SMEs can take advantage of opportunities to boost their growth

Why your business should be 'Digital'

According to the Government, as the growth of the digital economy develops at a rapid pace, the benefits of every business, no matter how small, becoming more digital are significant. Technology is now being applied to every aspect of life and in ways unimaginable only a few years ago. 

The pace of technological change is breathtaking and only those companies who recognise and embrace these changes are likely to survive. 

With the rise of the cloud, mobile, and big data, and in a world where digital technology is shrinking physical distances and the barriers to entry, SMEs will face increased competition from their digitally-enabled competitors both at home but also, increasingly, from abroad.

graphic of digital connections across the global economy
Digital transformation is the process by which companies embed technologies across their businesses to drive fundamental change. The benefits? Increased efficiency, greater business agility and, ultimately, the unlocking of new value for employees, customers and shareholders.

Digital transformation

There are a number of barriers to be overcome along the path to the comprehensive digitalisation of UK SMEs. A report from Be the Business identified 5 key barriers;

1. Products built for enterprise, not SME customers

2. Adoption is too hard and too costly

3. Switching feels too high risk

4. Lack of expertise and execution support

5. End-user adoption problems

However, as BT's The Future in 2021 report highlights, one of the biggest hurdles is that, of the respondents who said increasing revenue is a top business priority, 51% of leaders at Small companies and 40% at Medium companies see no link between technological uptake and revenue.

Today, organisations have a huge opportunity to build on this extraordinary period of digital transformation and put new and emerging technologies at the centre of their future strategies. Those that do, can expect to receive an enormous competitive advantage.

How do you facilitate your company's digital transformation?

According to Accenture, driving big change in an organisation is very difficult without developing and implementing a plan. Plans need to take into account customer experience, operational efficiency and how to drive innovation across the company.

Research in early 2021 showed that those companies who were leaders in tech adoption and innovation have been growing revenues at five times the rate of those companies that have been slow to implement a digital transformation.

Whilst understanding that digital transformation is of critical importance, many companies remain uncertain about how to begin the process, so the following are six steps that will help you plan for change to bring your transformation to fruition.
Business Transformation

Business Transformation

Make customers your top priority by identifying the key bottlenecks your customers are facing.

Strategy & Organisational Change

Strategy & Organisational Change

Requires a clear vision, an integrated approach, and a focus on value.
Overcome Barriers

Overcome Barriers

Focus on customers challenges across all silos and functions to optimise customer experience.
Partner Ecosystem

Partner Ecosystem

Your partners are also looking to improve their growth and operational effectiveness so collaborate with them.

Agile Approach

Agile Approach

Build an innovative culture where new ideas and experimentation can flourish.
Fund As An Investment

Fund As An Investment

Analyse your opportunities; identify one with an attractive return and future growth that can help self-fund innovation.

The importance of digital through the coronavirus crisis

Question: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about how use of the internet and digital technology has impacted on your company’s operations during the coronavirus situation?

Figs. shown are Net Agree, excluding Neither agree or disagree, Net Disagree and Don't Know/Not applicable.


Digital helped to remain engaged with customers


Digital will be prioritised by businesses in the future


Digital has enabled flexibility and adaptability


No trade without digital


Simplified business due to tech


Started doing more business online

Accelerated technology adoption by business due to Covid-19

Before the COVID crisis struck in March 2020, there had been a long-running concern that UK businesses had been lagging their international competitors in the adoption of technology.

Research from Microsoft and Be the Business suggested that, as the virus struck, as much as three years worth of innovation occurred in just three months. As many as 20% of business leaders said that they had to scrap an existing business model within days of lockdown being imposed.

However, COVID has also had a considerable impact on many businesses finances, so the Government should do everything it can to help SMEs source, understand and adopt new technology.
Confederation of British Industry

Confederation of British Industry

"In crisis mode, businesses were laser-focused and solved problems at pace. Barriers to change were vaulted. Businesses recognised the opportunity to build on momentum, but for some, fatigue is setting in. Last year’s 'Tech Tracker' report raised three ‘digital dilemmas’ facing businesses looking to make the most of their investment in innovation: getting the most out of data, involving employees in innovation and adoption, and understanding technology ethics as they evolve."

Not investing in these new technologies can mean reduced time and resources to focus on more profitable activities like product or service development or enhanced customer service. These functions have a meaningful impact on innovation and profitability.

Many of the cloud-based apps or services are subscription-based, limiting the scale of upfront resources needed to access cutting-edge technology that may previously not be open to smaller businesses. Combined with the reduced technical support and maintenance needed to run such solutions, it is clear that using such technology is an important step towards greater innovation and higher productivity.

Save your business Time and Money

Save your business Time and Money

Use our Digital Office Marketplace to find the right app for your business
that can help it grow and be more productive.

Explore the Digital Office Marketplace
Save your business time and money

Save your business time and money

Use ourDigital Office Marketplace to find the right app for your business that can help it grow and be more productive.

Explore the Digital Office Marketplace

The tech sector in the UK

Cambridge is the leading regional tech city in the UK thanks to its combination of high levels of VC funding, venture capital rounds, advertised tech salaries, number of unicorns (tech companies worth more than $1 billion) and futurecorns, according to new analysis for the UK’s Digital Economy Council by Dealroom and the smarter job search engine Adzuna.

More money than ever flowed into UK tech in 2021 - £29.4 billion this year, up 2.3x from last year’s figures of £11.5 billion - and almost £9bn of all venture capital investment went into startups and scaleups outside London and the South East.

Manchester narrowly lost out to Cambridge, with the number of jobs increasing there by 164.6% in 2021. The highest advertised average salaries outside London were in Edinburgh at £58,405.

The increased levels of money going into UK tech also mean companies are in need of trained technical and business staff. There has been a 50% rise in overall UK tech job vacancies advertised this year compared to 2020’s figures, with advertised tech vacancies hitting 160,887 in November. Currently, tech vacancies make up 12% of all available jobs in the UK, with just over 50% of these jobs available outside of London and the South East.

Software developers are still the most in-demand tech job across the UK. These positions make up 9% of all tech jobs with prospective developers being offered an average salary of £64,318, a 12% increase on 2020’s figures. Specialist staff such as java developers and IT systems architects continue to be able to command high salaries with the average advertised wage for these roles being £80,076 and £93,004 respectively.

DCMS: UK tech sector achieves best year ever as success feeds cities outside London, 20 December 2021

Leading regional tech cities - 2021

  1. Cambridge
  2. Manchester
  3. Oxford
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Bristol
  6. Leeds
  7. Birmingham
  8. Newcastle
  9. Cardiff
  10. Belfast

The SME competitive advantage

A focus on superior customer service continues to be a key competitive advantage for SMEs. Digital platforms such as BizEquals can further help to even up the competitive landscape so that big and small companies can compete on the basis of the quality of their product or service, not the size of their marketing budget.

graphic four core digital activities

Core digital activities according to the UK government

Our B2B digital platform is designed with you in mind. We want to provide your business with a ‘platform’ to showcase your company to the world.

We want to help you compete with larger companies on an equal basis, as business equals, hence our name BizEquals.

The digital economy and small business

The digital economy is of growing importance. The shift from single industries to horizontal, multi-industry ecosystems is a new, powerful trend that organisations such as the UK government, World Economic Forum, the EU, the CBI, McKinsey, MIT, BCG, Accenture, Bain, and Gartner, amongst many others, have identified.

As this change gathers pace, it remains to be seen what impact they will have on smaller businesses. By their very nature they have fewer resources to be able to compete with larger companies. However, BizEquals believes that nimble, customer-focused SMEs are well-placed to navigate these changing dynamics.

We believe they have strengths and advantages that can help them successfully compete in the digital economy. Many SMEs are focused, responsive, and can often be found at the cutting edge of technology.

Key tasks to ensure success in the digital economy

Be prepared for change

Be prepared for change

The world is changing rapidly around us. Every business needs to grasp the fact that the pace and scale of change are unprecedented and is going to happen whether we like it or not. Therefore, understanding the change, embracing it, and wanting to make it work for your business is critical to success.

Building management and team structures that plan, lead, and manage change are vital so that your business models, processes, and practices are able to keep pace with change.

Innovate, Cooperate, Collaborate

Innovate, Cooperate, Collaborate

SMEs have many advantages but some obvious disadvantages as well. To ensure that you don't get left behind, new collaborative ecosystems need to be explored.

Larger companies and business schools are just two sources of potential collaboration that can help drive innovation and development.

Know your customer better

Know your customer better

As the economy changes, traditional industry structures will be broken down. Huge amounts of data can provide new insights into customer behaviour. Targeting your current, and new customers using new technologies in a more timely, personalised way, whilst ensuring the highest standards of customer service, will allow companies to stand out from the crowd.

Your customers are better informed about, and better connected to, markets than ever before. Make sure they continue to see you as a market leader, not a laggard and win their loyalty through the provision of a superior experience and service.

Get the right skills and technology

Get the right skills and technology

Using the smart (and cost-effective) technology that is now available to even the smallest company, business processes can be reimagined to help drive the productivity of your employees. Equipping them with the skills to exploit new connections and opportunities, to build new partnerships, and deepen existing ones, will transform your business.

Identify processes and functions that can be outsourced to free up your employees to focus on real-time, value-add activity that drives efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

The big problem (for SMEs) is how to ‘spread the word’ about their innovative products or superior customer focus.

That's where BizEquals can help!

Our digital platform is designed for your business

two business people using laptop computers

Digitally network with other companies

Built with smaller companies in mind, our platform provides a unique way for companies to network digitally with other, like-minded, companies. Find out more about BizEquals and our philosophy here.

Our community is created ONLY by businesses adding their own details; we don't 'scrape' the web to fill it up with half-complete, out-of-date entries.

financial information on a computer screen

Our Premium subscribers:

When you subscribe to a Premium membership package, you will get access to a wide range of valuable discounts on business services and products.

In addition you will benefit from FREE business support (worth up to £1,000/yr) covering HR, H&S, Legal and Tax.
These savings are worth hundreds of pounds!
website analysis on a computer to help business growth

Efficiently grow your business

Small businesses can benefit from the range of features available on the BizEquals platform. Whether it is finding the right support or finance, planning how to export, or acquiring the necessary digital skills, BizEquals can help you easily find the right help to move your business forward. You may want to find an event or publicise your own, post your offers or reply to others, post wanted briefs, find a collaboration partner or list partnership requests.

Helping small businesses compete on an equal basis with larger companies

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Premium members get:

4 Services - HR, Health & Safety, Legal, Tax
5 Advice LinesHR, Health & Safety, Legal, Tax & VAT
3 Document Libraries -
HR, Health and Safety, Legal, with nearly 800 free, downloadable templates

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate… Something interesting is happening.”


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Don't let your business be left behind by the lack of the right skills for you and your team.

Get a competitive boost and become more productive.

find the right digital skills for your team graphic

Digital Trade with the EU post Brexit

The new trade agreement between the UK and EU sets out the terms under which businesses are able to trade and provide services and products to each other via digital channels. It actually contains some of the most liberalising and up-to-date trade provisions in the world, designed to help maintain current trade levels and facilitate new forms of trade in goods and services.

One crucial aspect is the clause that allows data to be stored in any jurisdiction, thus avoiding the imposition of costly requirements for UK businesses. This should help to maintain and encourage a healthy flow of data across borders. The agreement also confirms a strong commitment to data protection, helping to protect consumers and further promote trust in the digital economy. It also guarantees that neither party will discriminate against electronic signatures or documents simply because they are in digital form.

In addition, the digital trade chapter also contains a clause that encourages the exchange of information on regulatory matters to help facilitate the ongoing growth of cooperation in emerging technologies. This dialogue should help develop new market rules that will greatly help the sale of such technologies in each other's markets. 

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