Telcos do little to help the intrepid small business
Bad connections cost the UK’s small business sector around £19 billion in lost revenue, according to new research commissioned by mobile operator Three UK. It estimates that £7.7bn of output is lost to the British economy every year through the digital disconnect. The lost working time for British micro-businesses and SMEs equates to lost business revenues of £18.77bn a year on average, it said.
The research, conducted by Three UK in partnership with YouGov and Development Economics, found that professional services and retail are hardest hit by cost of poor connectivity, because these are industries where people are co-ordinated by telephony. “It’s alarming,” said Snehal Bhudia, director of business propositions at Three UK, “seven point seven billion is lost from the UK economy [as] poor technology stifles [business] performance.”
Many technology propositions are aimed at larger corporate structures and fail to meet the needs of smaller businesses, explained Bhudia. Technology providers must shape their services around the needs of small businesses. Their offerings must be simplified with tools that show what’s happening in their business with the clarity that’s only available for large corporates, said Bhudia. Nearly a third (29%) of SMEs fear they’ll lose employees because th only get access to bad technology. This figure rises to almost half (48%) amongst medium-sized businesses. Bad connections affect 36% who believe their network service handicaps them.
The lack of support and knowledge are a barrier to adopting the latest technology for the small enterprises, these failings cause trouble for 48% of SMEs. ”Poor connectivity really isn’t an option when you do what we do,” said Tony Gibbons, Technical Manager at Clearway, a Three Business customer, “but unfortunately we have fallen foul to this before. That’s why we chose Three Business – it allowed us to be cost effective and to be in complete control.”
Craig Beaumont, Chief of External Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said the FSB’s own research shows 45% of small businesses suffer from unreliable voice connectivity, rising to 57% in rural areas. “We need economic growth and productivity right across the UK, and that rests on world-class digital, mobile and vocal connectivity – 4G and 5G must be inclusive for everyone.” In response to this research Three has launched a Business Adapt offering last month, offering connectivity and handsets to small businesses that, it said, are tailored towards their needs.