What is the digital economy?
What does the move to a digital economy mean for SMEs?
Rapid change in the economy
Key Digital Requirements
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SMES
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.
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.
How do you facilitate your company's digital transformation?
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.
Make customers your top priority by identifying the key bottlenecks your customers are facing.
Strategy & Organisational Change
Your partners are also looking to improve their growth and operational effectiveness so collaborate with them.
Fund As An Investment
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.
Accelerated technology adoption by business due to Covid-19
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Our digital platform is designed for your business
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.
Our Premium subscribers:
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!
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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“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.”
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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