Small businesses face tech challenges

Britain’s small firms are proving slow to embrace the benefits of new technology, according to research from Lloyds TSB Business and the SERTeam at the Open University. It found 24% saying they find it hard to keep pace with technological change, 13% still do not use email, 30% have yet to use the Internet as a source of information, 47% believe such technology has improved working life, and 18% believe technology has taken the personal touch out of working relationships.

The study also found that IT literacy levels leave room for improvement: only 13% said their staff had an excellent understanding of technology such as PCs and the Internet, with 34% saying their employees had only an average level of literacy, and 6% believe IT skills were not required in their business.

Most small businesses are not exploiting technology to its full potential, with only 35% reporting using the web to generate business and only 28% saying investment in IT has helped them develop new markets.

Interestingly 61% admitted they would not be able to operate without their current level of investment in IT and almost half of those surveyed (47%) said using IT had helped them cut costs.

The survey also showed that 19% do not yet have a broadband connection, 38% do not use computerised databases or mailing lists and 58% do not use IT for presentations