by Mark Appleton
I recently read something that said businesses in Europe are woefully behind those in North America when it comes to having an online presence. I couldn't believe it myself. I forget the exact number but it was low, down in the 20% sort of area.
Well now the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released some interesting UK specific information that sort of confirms it.
It turns out that in 2015 just 50.1% of all businesses had a website. Here we are in the digital economy and yet only half of all businesses have any kind of specific online presence.
It seems that the size of your business has a large influence on whether you have a website or not. 97% of business with 250 to 999 employees had a website with 97.6% employing over 1,000 having a website. Compare that to the 80.6% of business with 10 to 49 employees and a woeful 46.4% of micro-enterprises (those with 0-9 employees) having an online presence. This is actually an increase of 2.6% since 2014.
I'm staggered by these numbers. Why are so many small businesses slow on the uptake? Is there a price issue? Barrier to entry? I'd say not given the number of business across the country that will build you a website for a few hundred pounds.
Is it a shunning of the online world? Do they simply believe they don't need a presence? That's not as far-fetched as it sounds. I've worked with a very well-known entrepreneur who had built his current and previous multi-million pound businesses without any online presence and so simply didn't see the need to start now.
Maybe it's an internet access issue? Well the ONS have looked into that and 83% of businesses had internet access with businesses employing 50 or more at 99%. Micro-enterprises are still low that at 81.6%. Perhaps what we're looking at is people on the move? Builders, plumbers, that sort of thing? I'd still argue they need to be online.
What about the whole social media side of things? That makes for grim reading I'm afraid. Just 35% of business used social media in 2015 up just 3% from 2014.
Again, we see the size of the business relating to use of online. 85.8% of businesses employing 1,000 or more employees used social networks compared to 54.1% of businesses with 10 to 49 employees and just 30.4% of micro-enterprises.
Most surprisingly was the people using social networks, or perhaps not that surprising if you've ever commuted. The manufacturing sector has the highest rate of social network usage at 39.5% while the transport (and storage) sector has the lowest at 14.3%. I imagine responding to all those complaints about late trains etc can get a bit tiresome.
It appears that big data is on the rise, although again only if you're a large company. Data from social media was the most popular type of big data analysis used by businesses of all sizes.
Data from a business's smart devices or sensors was used by 24.8% of larger companies, whilst smaller business hardly went near it, just 0.7% of micro-enterprises. This perhaps reflects the costs involved in having those devices and sensors in the first place, also big data, by its definition, needs big data sets.
I don't about you but I find these numbers surprising to say the least. It can be so easy to get online these days and promote your business with a website and/or social media. If you're struggling, why not give us a call and we'll help you get started.