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SMEs have most to gain from digital opportunities

The UK economy could get a £92 billion boost if businesses fully develop their digital potential, equivalent to 2.5% of GDP. And SMEs could grow at three times the rate of larger firms as a result.

These are the findings of a new report by Oxford Economics and Virgin Media Business entitled The UK's £92 billion Digital Opportunity.


According to the report, UK firms expect to create over one million new jobs over the next two years as a direct result of enhancing their digital capabilities. In the last year, digital capabilities generated £123 billion in business revenues, equivalent to 3.4% of total GDP.


Small firms - those with fewer than 250 employees - have the most to gain from investing in digital technologies, say the authors of the report. SMEs expect an additional £56 billion boost if they get access to the best digital capabilities available according to the research. And small firms have plans to increase employment by 6% over the next two years to make the most of digital opportunities; three times the rate of larger companies.


The digital opportunity is greatest for professional and tech services firms, that could add £27 billion a year in industry revenues. Significant gains are also possible for other sectors such as wholesale and retail (£17 billion a year), manufacturing (£9 billion a year), financial services (£9 billion a year) and transportation and storage (£8 billion a year).


Peter Kelly, Managing Director, Virgin Media Business, said: 

"The incredible pace of change means there is no place to hide, or room to stand still. Any business with ambitions to grow through digital needs to invest in the right technology and skills, while the Government and industry have to deliver the infrastructure and support to help them."

John Cridland, Director General of the CBI, said: 

"The UK is the tech capital of Europe but digital advances never stop, so if we want it to stay ahead we need more young people studying computing to a higher level. Looking into the future, the proposed EU digital single market, if delivered well, would be great news for both business and consumers, reducing barriers to e-commerce across the continent."
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