Poor online skills of SMBs costing UK plc billions, claims charity

Training development

Around 11 million people in the UK lack basic online skills, which is costing the economy billions of pounds, it has been claimed.

In a report commissioned by charity Go On UK, it was found that most UK SMBs had no digital presence, with just a third having a website and 14 per cent selling their goods online.

This, the report claims, means these organisations are missing out on billions of pounds in revenue.

Digital clearly offers growth, particularly to the small and medium-sized enterprise sector.

Consultants Booz and Company, which wrote the report, found that 10.8 million people in the UK do not use the internet.

It is claimed getting more SMBs online could add as much as 18.8 billion to the UK economy, while improving their customer satisfaction and retention rates.

The report also calls for the introduction of a more affordable, accessible, fast, and robust digital broadband infrastructure.

"This needs to be populated with innovative, high-quality public- and private-sector digital services," the report said.

"Digital clearly offers growth, particularly to the small and medium-sized enterprise sector," said Go On UK chair and digital champion Martha Lane Fox.

"Far greater digital capability offers so much more: improvements in education, connecting the elderly and isolated to their communities more effectively, helping people back into work, and better health and social services."

She said the lack of basic digital skills for millions means "digitisation" is unbalanced. "We will increasingly fall short of the UK's potential if we do not start to address the problem," said Lane Fox.

She also urged individuals, families, charities, businesses, and the Government to work together to "unlock the powerful social and economic prize that awaits us."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.