Procurement · 2 November 2017

1.6m owners lack basic digital skills and their businesses pay the price

Male and female colleagues using digital tablet. Baristas are looking at technology. They are standing in coffee house.
Problem solving and collaborating via technology were among the measures of basic digital skills
Around one in four small UK business owners remain in the digital slow lane, as a new report finds that founders with high digital capabilities are three times more likely to increase their turnover.

For its latest Business Digital Index, Lloyds Bank measured the digital capabilities of 2, 000 small business owners across the UK, analysing online behaviour and survey responses to assess their attitudes towards technology.

The subsequent report confirmed the importance of strong digital skills to business success, identifying four central metrics to measure capabilities, otherwise known as the UK Basic Online Skills framework.

  1. Managing information: Finding and storing digital information and content
  2. Communicating: Collaborating and sharing with others
  3. Transacting: Selling goods and registering for government services
  4. Creating: Engage with communities and create basic content
  5. Problem solving: Increase confidence by using digital tools to find solutions
According to the research, 1.6m company owners 41 per cent of Britain’s small business leaders were unable to demonstrate all five skills. But, since the index was first published in 2014, twice as many business owners have developed high digital capabilities to some degree.

Lack of digital skills holding you back? Selling online is simpler than you think

A wide range of benefits were uncovered for those confidently showing the five skillsets. Digitally-savvy founders typically generated higher turnover, made cost savings and even reduced the amount of time employees need to work.

The most digital businesses were also 11 times more likely to trade overseas than those lacking skills.

At the other end of the spectrum, some 118, 000 UK firms were not using the internet at all.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Williams, director of consumer and commercial digital at Lloyds Banking Group, elaborated on some of the central benefits to leading a company with high digital capabilities.

‘since launching the index in 2014, we have seen more than twice as many organisations develop high digital capabilities, which shows great progress, Williams said.

this is giving them a shortcut to success in business, increasing sales, improving productivity and giving back almost a day a week in time savings.”


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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