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10 May 2013

Scottish firms fear losing tech race

Reference number: 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.