More than a million small companies lacking basic digital skills

Some 23 per cent of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still lack basic digital skills, according to the latest UK Business Digital Index.

The Index from Lloyds Bank, in association with Accenture and digital skills charity Go ON UK, measures and tracks the level of digital ability among SMEs and charities.

An overall rise in the UK Index score suggests a slow but positive shift towards SMEs becoming more digitally active. However there are still over a million SMEs that lack basic digital skills, according to the study.

This is even more significant in the charity sector where 58 per cent of charities don’t have the necessary skills, an increase of 3 per cent from 2014.

Having basic digital skills includes activities such as running a website, using e-commerce or maintaining a social media presence.

Challenges also remain around the perceived benefits of being digital, with a quarter of all organisations believing digital is irrelevant’ to them while more worryingly a similar number (27 per cent) still believe that they have already done everything they can to embrace the digital economy.

The report has also established a strong link between digital maturity and organisational success, with the most digitally-mature SMEs a third more likely and charities two times more likely to see an increase in turnover or funding in the last two years compared with the least digitally able organisations.

Miguel-Ángel Rodríguez-Sola, group director for digital at Lloyds Banking Group says, ‘In just one year it is pleasing to see that over 100,000 more small businesses in the UK now have basic digital skills.

‘But what is also clear is that real challenges remain – over a million small businesses and charities still lack basic digital skills and the perceived benefits of being digital remain. For example 25 per cent of all organisations surveyed believe digital is ‘irrelevant’ to them. We cannot emphasis enough the benefits that digital adoption can offer – such as saving time, increasing revenue or funding or reaching wider audiences. Digital is the key to unlock these benefits.’

The attitudes of small to medium sized enterprises and charities becoming more digital has revealed a quarter (25 per cent) of organisations believe digital is ‘irrelevant’ to them while more worryingly a similar number (27 per cent) still believe that they have already done everything they can.

Most notably, time appears to have become even more precious, as the number using this reason as a barrier increased by almost a half from last year’s survey from 14 per cent to 20 per cent.

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Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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