The latest Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index reveals that 40% of East Midlands SME organisations lack the basic digital skills that could drive growth.
By embracing digital skills, UK businesses could generate an additional £85billion in turnover according to the report. Yet only 19 per cent of East Midlands businesses are gaining a transactional benefit from trading online domestically, compared to the UK average of 21 per cent. This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, with just six per cent of East Midlands businesses using online channels to trade overseas.
The report also found that only six per cent of East Midlands businesses use digital channels to search and discover growth opportunities for their business – and a third of them have no interest in developing their cyber security capability.
For those businesses embracing advanced technologies including cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools there is the opportunity to generate more than £100,000 in extra annual turnover compared to those who have none.
The benefits can go beyond finances too, with 2.5m businesses saving time through digital, more than twice as many compared to 2014. Small businesses and charities with advanced digital capabilities are able to save a day a week according to the report.
Martin Dodd, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the Midlands, said: “While there’s still more to be done to make digital skills accessible to everyone, our region has made great strides towards digital capability. In just three years, we’ve seen a 54 per cent growth in digital skills and the number of businesses who are offline has fallen to just one per cent, compared to 12 per cent in 2014 when the study was first commissioned.
“We know from our work with local businesses that having a strong online presence can attract business both in the UK and internationally. Working closely with East Midlands SMEs, we’re keen to help organisations trade online both here and abroad.
“With almost 3,000 specially trained digital champions in the Midlands, we are helping the region’s businesses and charities develop their skills to facilitate growth, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper plan. Over the coming 12 months we will continue to provide free to access training events for SMEs to help them close the digital skills gap.”