A new service to help smaller firms improve their productivity through technology is launched in the East of England today by e-skills UK and the East of England Development Agency.
EEDA is introducing the Guide as part of its £2.8 million ‘takeITon’ initiative to boost the competitiveness of businesses in the region through the use of IT.
e-skills UK’s Business IT Guide is designed to help small companies understand what technology is relevant to their organisation and support them in taking any necessary action.
It covers topics ranging from developing a website, implementing security and investing in hardware and software, to using technology to enhance sales and customer relationships and manage communications.
The Business IT Guide will form part of the takeITon programme which also includes the provision of specialist Business Link IT advisers, a series of workshops and events, and a grant funding programme for selected eligible businesses.
Richard Ellis, Chairman of EEDA said:
“Making the most of technology could boost the regional economy by £3.4 billion over the next decade. The single most important step we can take towards achieving this is to help the region’s smaller firms increase their adoption of IT.
“Our research reveals that many smaller firms in the region are still reluctant to invest in technology. For example, only 40% of small businesses have a website, compared to a UK average of 63%. Among companies employing fewer than ten people, only 21% have the ability to do business electronically, and just 16% have equipped their employees to be able to work while out of the office. In addition, a mere 5% of employees receive training on how to make use of the IT infrastructure.”
“The Business IT Guide is specifically designed to help these small firms explore how IT could help make their business more productive and successful. We hope many companies will make use of it.”
Karen Price, CEO, e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for IT and Telecoms, said:
“Technology can transform a small business. It has the power to improve efficiency, open up new markets and enhance customer service. But for many smaller firms it can be difficult to know where to start. Our research has found that many small businesses don’t know where to go for trusted and objective information about introducing and managing new technology.”
“They can get lost in all the jargon; and they worry about resource and skills implications and what the business will do if the technology doesn’t work properly. In addition, they are unsure about how to plan for growth and changing needs.
“The Business IT Guide was developed by e-skills UK with employers for employers. It addresses these concerns and provides small companies with a user-friendly, accessible tool that enables them to make the most of technology for business success. We are delighted to be launching the Guide in the East of England in partnership with EEDA.”