Head of Digital Inclusion, Leigh Smyth, talks about this year’s Business Digital Index and how digital has transformed a family run coach company and driven their business forward
Yesterday we launched the fourth annual Business Digital Index; the UK’s largest measure of the digital capability of small businesses and charities. Since we first launched the Index in 2014, it has provided government and partners with the opportunity to benchmark digital skills across the country and has highlighted real success stories as well as key areas of focus.
This year, whilst more small businesses and charities have shown they have the full five basic digital skills identified in the Index, sadly there has also been a rise in those without. 100,000 charities and 1.6 million small businesses in the UK currently lack the full array of skills and opportunities available online. These businesses may struggle to connect with new suppliers and customers; they may not be able to use technology to manage their finances and are likely to need to invest more of their time in manual processes.
The most digitally capable businesses are twice as likely to report an increase in their turnover while highly digital charities are twice as likely to report an increase in the donations they receive. Beyond the financial benefits, there are a huge amount of time savings available thanks to digital with small businesses reporting that they save up to a day a week through the technology they use.
Adopting digital was imperative for Lincolnshire based business, Hunt’s Coaches with its fleet of over 30 vehicles and 50 employees. Father and son owners and directors, Mick and Joe run the coach company which has been established since 1930 and thanks to digital, is seeing an increase in the amount of bookings they receive and revolutionised many of their day to day activities.
Hearing Joe praise digital as “a shortcut to success” really hits home the importance of taking the plunge and should serve as a great example for those businesses and charities in digital denial. Joe, who has helped to transform the family business using technology, appreciates the monthly outlay for digital services might seem daunting but knows the benefits it provides are priceless. Like many other small businesses, the introduction of facilities like online bookings and social media has enabled them to become a ’24 hour business’ and gives their customers the freedom to interact with them at a time and place that suits them.
Whilst many businesses and charities are yet to engage first gear when it comes to digital, there are plenty who are already up to speed and 670,000 organisations are on the cusp of having all five basic digital skills. These organisations are likely to already be seeing many of the benefits digital has to offer and are very close to giving themselves the best possible advantages of being online.
At Lloyds Banking Group, we ‘re passionate about helping organisations harness the opportunities digital can offer. We have worked closely with organisations such as Go on UK, DotEveryone and The Tech Partnership to develop nationally-used frameworks and insights, and have partnered with Good Things Foundation, Google and others to develop and implement face to face training. In this year alone, we are proud to have trained almost 44,000 organisations with the support of our fantastic branch network.
Small businesses and charities are vital to the UK economy and understanding how digital skills can unlock their potential is really important. Whilst many businesses and charities are going from strength to strength thanks to the almost endless benefits of going digital, there are thousands more that we can help. Our digital toolkits are a great place to start and can help people get out of the starting blocks and on their journey to digital success. Digital workshops held all over the UK have also been fantastic for helping many people understand some of the simple changes they can make to turbocharge their businesses online.
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