British businesses demand greater support from Government in 2017


The survey revealed a stark call for help with over three quarters of businesses of all sizes wanting the Government to do more to help them navigate these challenges and remain competitive next year.

The survey of 1,200 small, medium and large companies across public and private sectors uncovered a clear desire from British businesses for the Government to prioritise pro-business measures next year. The top five focus areas identified were: a 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.

As the UK’s productivity challenges continue, three quarters of businesses cite improving employee productivity as a key driver of business growth, while almost eight in ten are focusing on operational efficiency.

However, the survey reveals a more positive outlook for UK businesses with two thirds planning to expand into new markets or bring new products/services to market in 2017. Eight in ten businesses expect technology to be an important driver of commercial gains in 2017 as consumer demand for connectivity and digital products and services continues to soar.

Today, more than four in every five adults own a smartphone and nearly three quarters use a mobile to access the internet on the go according to the latest figures from Ofcom.  As a result, a third of businesses expect their customers to want to access more of their products or services online or via mobile in 2017. More than one-in-three also say they expect more of their customers to interact with them “through digital means” e.g. social media, email, live chat etc. in 2017.

As such, half of all businesses say better access to connectivity would benefit their organisation – compared to just 46 per cent who say that improved physical infrastructure would benefit them.

Ben Dowd, Sales Director at O2, said: “The O2 Business Barometer offers a stark reminder that mobile technology is now a vital part of modern life and business and it’s transforming our economy. For us to continue to deliver a customer-centred digital transformation it 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.”

Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, supported the calls: “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. This is what Enterprise Nation strives to do with global brands and key UK partners so all small businesses can have equal opportunity to build a home on the web, work in the cloud, work on the move, and raise profile, whilst doing this on a budget. It’s been a key target for us in 2016 and will remain a priority area for the New Year and beyond.”