O2: UK businesses demand more government support

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Research finds three quarters of British businesses are in need of greater support to remain competitive and grow this year

British businesses are requesting help from the government to maintain growth in the face of economic uncertainty and Brexit looming.

This is according to the latest report from the O2 Business Barometer, who surveyed 1,200 SMEs and large enterprises across the public and private sector, in December 2016.

Over three quarters of UK businesses (76 per cent) want the government to provide assistance.

Five focus areas were identified in the report: reduction in red tape (64 per cent), improved access to technology and connectivity (48 per cent), increased access to funding (41 per cent), improve access to talent/training (39 per cent), improved trade agreements (37 per cent).

Around 73 per cent believe employee productivity is a key driver of business growth, while 78 per cent are focusing on operational efficiency.

Positive outlook
Despite the call for help, the report reveals a positive outlook for UK businesses with 64 per cent planning to expand into new markets or introduce new products/services to market (69 per cent) in 2017.

Technology will be an important driver for commercial gains in 2017 according to 80 per cent of those surveyed, as consumer demand for connectivity and digital product services gain more momentum.

According to Ofcom four in every five adults own a smartphone with three quarters having access to the internet through their handsets. As a result over a third of businesses (33 per cent) expect consumer demand for product access through the Internet or via smartphones. Digital communication with customers is also expected to rise (38 per cent), utilising social media, email and live chats.

Over half of businesses (59 per cent) say better connectivity would benefit their organisation – with 46 per cent stating improved physical infrastructure would benefit them.

Time for action
O2 sales director Ben Dowd said: “For us to continue to deliver a customer-centred digital transformation it [mobile technology] has to be supported by further digital infrastructure investment.

“The Government has set out its plans for a ‘world class digital infrastructure’. Now it’s time for action. We need collective effort from Government and industry to make sure businesses across Britain have access to the technology and connectivity they need to keep up with their customers’ demands, achieve growth and remain competitive on the global stage.”

Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones added: “This research shows what we know to be true; that there is a way to go when it comes to small businesses making the most of the digital opportunity. What’s required is a healthy dose of training and education – and measures to boost levels of confidence in digital skills.”

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