A small, dedicated group of researchers from Lloyds Banking Group have been working relentlessly over the last five years to put together a report into the Digital Index of businesses and charities in the UK.
After spending over 5,000 hours speaking to SMEs and charities in the region, analysing over 10,000 organisations behavioural data and creating over 150 case studies, their hard work all rounded off last week with a brilliantly organised grand review by Debbie Fletcher at the Leeds Town Hall. We were grateful to be asked to speak on the case study panel, which gave us the opportunity to share our digital journey with other businesses and charities on the day.
The Stats say it all!
After attending the event and reading through just a fraction of their findings, it was amazing to hear that in 2018 there was 3.4 million (84%) SMEs with high digital capability. However, despite this, there is still over £84.5 billion which could be unlocked by those remaining 655,000 (16%) SMEs which were classified as having low digital capability. It just goes to show how each small step to becoming more digital can have such a dramatic effect on our local economy. This isn’t the only benefit which those 16% of businesses are missing out on, as SMEs reported saving, on average, 21% of their working week due to digital alone – that’s the same as finishing your week at half four on a Thursday or spending all that saved time doing those tasks you usually neglect doing!
Although the benefits of digital don’t end at the office alone, almost a fifth of small to medium businesses are now using digital channels to drive trade overseas – and even simple changes – for example, moving your website domain from .co.uk to .com – can open you up to an international audience, something we discovered on our own exporting journey!
Inspiring stories and journeys
It was great to hear from a familiar face Muz Mumtaz, Programme Manager at Digital Enterprise, who sat on the expert panel. He discussed the funding that’s out there for businesses in the Leeds City Region which businesses can utilise to improve their digital capabilities. Mike Niles, Founder at b:Friend, also shared his inspiring story of the charity he set up to help tackle loneliness. He explained how they optimise digital to engage their audience and, by doing so, were able to recruit over 100 new volunteers in their local area! We also noticed some interesting parallels with Mike Black, Director of Sound Leisure, who’s digital journey began by obtaining a Digital Growth Voucher to update their systems and boost their overall operations. The expert and case study panels have played a multitude of different roles in recent years in growing, promoting and utilising the digital support that is out there and act as perfect representatives of each piece of the digital puzzle.
We initially reviewed our digital journey in 2017 after an influx of new client wins and longer-term contracts which we felt could benefit from more sophisticated technology. We had already been looking into moving premises for a while, but due to this influx of new clients and increase in resource as a result, we needed to upscale quickly to facilitate. Increasing efficiencies and our revenues per head therefore became a key focus, however, we were unsure about where to start and had initial reservations about taking such a huge step.
It was then that we were introduced to the Digital Growth Vouchers, which gave us the opportunity to not only upgrade our existing telephone software (crucial to the industry we are in), but also pushed us to take the leap and move offices to somewhere that could support our growing team. We were also able to use the voucher to redevelop our online presence in line with our new, vibrant office!
We saw the effects immediately by winning our biggest client to date, showing just how fundamental a scheme like this can be for a growing business! We expanded our team by six full-time members of staff in 2018, and have enhanced our expertise in creative and digital – growth which we attribute in part to the support we received from the scheme!
It goes to show that there are programmes out there which businesses can benefit from and, as an advocate ourselves, we would strongly encourage exploring it as a new avenue to growth! You don’t have to overhaul your whole digital strategy, but small tweaks really can make all the difference in boosting your operations. As the findings show and from personal experience focusing on your company’s digital capability can have a knock-on effect on not only revenue but your overall offering.
Why not pop in for a cuppa!
If you are considering it but are feeling hesitant about how to go about increasing your digital presence, or are looking to explore what funding is out there for you, pop in or give us a bell, we’re more than happy to help point you in the right direction!