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Scottish firms fear losing tech race

Friday, May 10, 2013 SPUPR1005

Four in five Scottish small firms believe that by investing in technology they can grow their business but a quarter fear they have fallen behind competitors, new research shows.

A survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) of more than 2000 firms reveals how small businesses are investing in and using new technology. Their data reveals that, on average, Scottish small businesses invested £2650 in new technologies in the last year, compared to a UK-wide figure of £3500.

Around half of the Scottish respondents said they would invest more in new technology if their area had better local digital infrastructure.

Six in 10 UK businesses said that investment had a positive impact on how they communicate with existing customers and half of the firms asked believe new technology had helped in targeting new customers.

The FSB in Scotland argues that these findings reinforce the case for Scotland's governments and agencies to work closely together to deliver universal next generation broadband access as well as deliver improved mobile coverage and 4G services across the nation.    

Businesses also reported variable levels of IT skills, with around three in 10 (29%) saying that better digital skills within their businesses would encourage them to make more significant technology investment in the future.

Andy Willox, the FSB's Scottish policy convenor, said:

"No longer is information technology the preserve of specialist businesses operating from shiny offices in media villages.

"Firms recognise that technology can give them an edge but, worryingly, Scottish firms seem less keen to invest than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK. Better infrastructure, they say, would encourage them to invest and we look forward to the promise of improvements in this area becoming a reality.

"Scottish business owners, too, must regularly ensure they're taking advantage of the opportunities which new technology presents."

This week, the Scottish Government published a new document called Scotland's Digital Future, which explores how the Scottish public sector can better use IT, improve the nation's infrastructure and help businesses boost the economy through technology.


The FSB has put together an Infographic to accompany this release: (JPG)


1. The FSB is the UK's leading business organisation with around 200,000 members and around 19,000 in Scotland . It exists to protect and promote the interests of the UK's Real-Life Entrepreneurs, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at

2. This report is based on UK-wide data gathered by the FSB a report entitled 'The Digital Imperative'. A copy of this report can be found here:

3. The figures are based on a snap poll of FSB members, carried out by Research by Design, between 8 and 16 January 2013 which received 2,200 responses across the UK and 230 from Scotland

The FSB asked: "How much have you invested in these technologies in the past 12 months?"


Mean invested

Median invested

UK-wide (weighted sample of  1928 businesses)



Scotland (weighted sample of  192 businesses)



The FSB asked "What impact has this investment in technology had on targeting and communicating with potential customers?"


Significantly positive impact

Moderately positive impact

UK-wide (weighted sample of 1857 businesses)



Scotland (weighted sample of 185 businesses)



The FSB asked: "Thinking about your future planning and business growth, how important is it to invest in new technologies?"


Very important

Fairly Important

UK-wide (weighted sample of  2195 businesses)



Scotland (weighted sample of  222 businesses)



The FSB asked: "Do you consider your business to be more or less advanced in its use of technology compared to other businesses in the same sector?"


Slightly less advanced

Significantly less advanced

UK-wide (weighted sample of  2192 businesses)



Scotland (weighted sample of  223 businesses)



The FSB asked: "Which of the following, if any, would encourage you to invest  in these types of technology in the future?"

UK (weighted sample of 2163)

Scotland (weighted sample of 221)

More generous tax write-downs/ Improved capital allowances



Improved digital infrastructure in my area (e.g. increased internet speed and access, better connectivity via both mobile and fixed internet connections)



Increased levels of IT skills for our staff/ myself



More effectively tailored packages for small businesses from ISP's (Internet service providers)



None of these - I do not need any encouragement to invest in technology for my business (it is essential to do so)



Enhanced levels of business support and guidance (e.g. from government, agencies, local government)



None of these - this technology is not applicable to my business



Other (please specify below)




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