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Half of SMEs lack basic digital skills

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Unwired: many firms do not even have a website

Nearly half (48%) of Scotland’s small businesses lack basic digital skills that could help them improve productivity and save costs, according a new survey. 

It found that more than do not even have their own website or use social media.

The report has found firms with digital capabilities are more likely to increase their revenue.

The Bank of Scotland Business Digital Index 2017, the largest study of its kind into the digital capabilities of small businesses and charities. says the most digitally capable organisations are twice as likely to report an increase in turnover compared to non-digital equivalents, and are also more productive.

In Scotland, 71% of businesses reported saving time from being online and 56% said they saved on costs.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of small businesses in Scotland say trading overseas is one of the key benefits of being online. However ,despite the advantages of embracing digital, more than half (56%) of Scottish SME’s do not have their own website and half do not use social media. 

Barriers holding Scottish firms back from doing more online include concerns about security (23%) and a lack of staff with digital skills (22%). Less than a third (29%) of businesses in Scotland feel they have the skills to prevent online fraud and scams.

Two-thirds (65%) said they weren’t investing anything in digital skills, and a third of Scottish firms (34%) don’t see being online as relevant to their business. 

Whilst the gap between the digital capability of businesses has widened, there are reasons to be optimistic with 670,000 organisations across the UK on the cusp of having Basic Digital Skills. 

The Basic Digital Skills measure was introduced in 2016 and designed to gauge an organisation’s digital capability.

For businesses to have full Basic Digital Skills, they need to demonstrate at least one task in each of the following skills: managing information, transacting, communicating online and using digital to problem solve and create content like adverts and promotional material for their business.

Philip Grant of Lloyds Banking Group said: “Digital technology continues to offer tremendous opportunities for Scotland’s business community, increasing sales, improving productivity and opening up international markets.

“But to leverage this, it’s essential that businesses have the right skills.”

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