Majority of UK SMEs believe technology can help rebalance the economy

North south divideThe UK’s small and medium sized businesses believe that the regional divide in the economy can be bridged to a large extent by technology, according to a new report from Brother UK. According to the report, Regional Attitudes to Growth and Competitiveness, carried out in conjunction with Cardiff University and based on a survey of 600 SMEs around the country, over half (57 percent) believe technology was the key driver of their region’s competitiveness and only one in ten say the competitiveness of their region has declined since the start of the recession. Over two thirds (71 percent) believe technology can improve regional competitiveness and slightly more (73 percent) believe it’s possible to service customers and clients across multiple regions efficiently from their current location. The survey also claims that because each company spends an average of 244 working days a year on business travel and the UK has the second highest annual business travel spend of any Western European nation, despite its comparatively small size, many firms are turning to technology to enhance their competitiveness.

Technology is also a key driver of each business’s operations according to the report with three quarters (75 percent) of firms having already introduced some form of flexible working and a third (36 percent) believe they need to recruit staff from beyond their local talent pool in order to become more competitive.

The report also highlights the importance of physical infrastructure in making it easier for firms to compete nationally.

Prof David Huggins who analysed the results of the survey said: “There are a number of challenges SMEs will face in the future if they are to embrace the opportunities available to them. These challenges are often accentuated for SMEs in regions with less competitive business environments. It is now time for SMEs to develop stronger formal plans with regard to effectively managing and investing in the connectivity and networks required for sustained and improved competitiveness.“