Business questionnaire results

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1 Introduction An internet-based survey was carried out amongst businesses in Bassetlaw, Newark & Sherwood and Rushcliffe Districts to establish how they currently use the internet in their day-to-day business activities, how they envisage using the internet in the future, and what constraints there are on the current network which prevent them from maximising their use of internet/ictbased applications for their business. 200 businesses from the above Districts completed a questionnaire. Businesses which did not leave a postcode or contact address could not be allocated to any District, so the eventual number of questionnaires prepared for analysis was 183. The split of businesses by industry sectors is given below, and this is compared to the current (2010) split by industry sector as produced by National Statistics. It should be pointed out that the National data incorporates all VAT-registered and/or PAYEregistered businesses, whereas there is no means of establishing from the surveyed businesses whether they are registered for VAT or PAYE. Table 1: comparison of actual population with survey population by Industry sector Actual population Survey population Industry sector Number Percentage Number Percentage Agriculture, forestry & % 18 10% fishing Manufacturing/construction % 16 9% Retail/W holesale % 17 9% Accommodation & food 785 6% 10 5% services Transport & Storage/Motor 935 7% 10 5% trade Knowledge-based economy % 74 40% Property 510 4% 6 3% Public sector % 25 14% Arts, entertainment, leisure 945 7% 7 4% Total % % Note: Knowledge-based economy grouping includes all Information and communication, financial and insurance, professional scientific and technical and public administration and defence businesses.

2 Public sector includes Public Administration and defence, Education and Health. From the above table it can be seen that knowledge-based businesses are over-represented in the sample, and Manufacturing and construction businesses are under-represented. The survey data has therefore been weighted to ensure it corresponds as closely as possible with the national data. W eights have been calculated with reference to District, Business sector and area type (urban/rural). General Results 43% of businesses are from Newark & Sherwood District, 34% from Bassetlaw District, and 19% came from Rushcliffe District. 63% of businesses are from areas classified as Village, hamlet and isolated dwelling, 12% were from urban areas, and 18% were from town and fringe areas. 79% of businesses who completed the survey employed between 1-4 people, and 8% employed 5-10 people. The corresponding figures based on national data for the 3 Districts are 68% and 15% respectively. Just over half (5) of businesses surveyed were Private Limited Companies, and 2 were sole traders operating from home. 9% were Public sector-funded agencies/organisations. 8 of businesses operated from 1 site, 1 from 2 sites, and 9% operated from more than 3 sites in Nottinghamshire. When questioned about how they envisaged their businesses growing over the next 2 to 3 years, just over half (57%) said they hoped to grow moderately; 27% envisaged staying the same size, and 13% envisaged growing substantially. Take-up and method of connection 77% of businesses surveyed had a website and 94% of businesses said they could receive a broadband service at their business or company location. The chart below shows the main methods of connection to the internet. Nearly 40 % of businesses accessed broadband by ADSL (where download speeds are faster than upload speeds). Page 2 of 9

3 Means of connection to internet Broadband via ADSL 38% Broadband via cable modem Broadband but don't know w hat type 17% 22% Mobile internet connection (blackberry) Broadband via satellite/w ireless Mobile broadband (dongle/usb stick) 7% 6% 9% Don't know Broadband via SDSL Dial-up 0% 0% The chart below shows typical download speeds quoted by respondents. Just over a quarter of respondents (27%) had download speeds of less than 1 Mgps per second. 42% of respondents said they had typical upload speeds of less than 0.5 Mgps per second. Typical download speeds don't know 28% 1-2 mb per second 2 less than 0.5 mb per second mb per second 2-4 mb per second 4-8 mb per second 15% 12% 10% 7% mb per second slow 8-16 mb per second 2% 3% Typical upload speeds less than 0.5 mb per second 42% don't know 33% mb per second 13% slow 1-2 mb per second 2-4 mb per second 4-8 mb per second mb per second 8-16 mb per second 4% 3% 2% 2% 0% Page 3 of 9

4 33% of respondents paid per month for their current broadband collection, and an equivalent percentage paid per month for their current connection. Use of internet/broadband within businesses The chart below shows the main uses of internet/broadband applications and functions which businesses use. The main uses are internet, , statutory returns such as VAT to HMRC done electronically, and remote access to company file systems. Top 10 Broadband/internet applications made use of Internet Statutory returns to HMRC Remote access to company file systems Social Media tools (eg Linked-in) Conference calls Remote and flexible w orking E-learning and training Video-conferencing Collaborative w orking Intranet Total number of respondents 35% of respondents said that they regularly upload or download large video, image or sound files, and 30% of respondents said they do this activity often but not regularly. 14% of respondents said that they upload large video or image files all the time. 44% of respondents stated that their business had a website. However, of these businesses with a website, 40% said that the estimated proportion of sales made to customers via the website was less than 20% and 25% of respondents said that the proportion of sales was between 21-40%. Businesses were then asked whether they made use of externally-hosted software programmes that are hosted on computers which are not located on their home business premises. This concept is known as Cloud Computing. 45% of businesses answered yes and 12% of businesses said they did not know. Of these businesses answering no to this question, 5 said that they would be likely to make use of externallyhosted software within the next 2 to 3 months. 9 of businesses said that access to reliable, high speed broadband was very important for their business, and 8% of Page 4 of 9

5 respondents said that access was fairly important. W hen broken down by growth ambitions, of those owners who envisaged their company s business or growth objectives to grow substantially, 100% said that access to reliable, high speed broadband is important. Of those stating their growth objectives as to grow moderately, 95% said that access to reliable, high speed broadband is very important. Of those stating their objectives as stay the same size, 78% said that access is very important. 64% of respondents stated that the current speed of their internet connection significantly constrains the way they use the internet and internet-based applications. 32% of respondents said that the current speed slightly constrains the way they use the internet and internet-based applications. W hen broken down by growth ambitions, of those owners hoping that their business would grow moderately over the next few years, 75% said that that the current speed of their internet connection significantly constrains the way they use the internet and associated applications in the business. The corresponding figure for those hoping their business would grow substantially in the future was 60%. Future broadband aspirations The chart below shows the typical broadband speeds that businesses would like to obtain. 38% of respondents said they would like to achieve a speed of 50 Mbps per second. Typical broadband speed would like to obtain 50+ MB per second 38% MB per second 16% MB per second 16% 5-10 MB per second 14% Don't know MB per second 4% less than 1 MB per second 0% 63% of respondents said they would be very likely to seek a faster broadband connection over the next 2 to 3 years in order to perform existing (and new) business functions. 27% of respondents stating that they would be fairly likely to do the same. Of those respondents stating that they upload large video, Page 5 of 9

6 picture or sound files all the time, 88% said they would be very likely to seek a faster broadband connection over the next 2 to 3 years; the corresponding figure for those firms uplifting large files regularly is 66%. The chart below shows how much businesses would be prepared to pay for faster broadband. Just under a third (3) of respondents said they would be prepared to pay per month to achieve faster internet/broadband. How much would you be prepared to pay for faster broadband speeds? per month per month 27% per month 16% less than 10 per month 1 more than 50 per month per month want the best value 2% 4% 7% don't know would like to get what I am paying for at the moment 77% of respondents said they were very/well informed about broadband and how its ICT applications could influence business competitiveness and productivity (55% fairly well informed, 22% very well informed ). 20% of respondents considered themselves to be not very informed/not at all well informed. The chart below shows what businesses anticipate to be the main business benefits of faster internet/broadband to their company. Of note is the number of businesses stating more flexible working, implying that faster broadband speeds could enable more staff to work remotely or at home, thus reducing travelling and traffic congestion on the roads. Page 6 of 9

7 Main business benefits of faster internet/broadband increased business performance inproved customer service more flexible w orking (inc home w orking) ability to deliver new products or services increased competitive advantage higher turnover reduced carbon footprint/co2 emissions increase in market share or entry into new markets don't know none - existing connection is adequate Number of respondents Finally in this section respondents were asked how they envisaged using the internet/broadband within their business over the next few years. 90% of respondents said they hoped to use internet/broadband for a greater range of functions, and 8% said they hoped to use internet/broadband for the same range of functions. W hen tabulated against business growth ambitions, the proportion of respondents stating that they hoped to use internet/broadband for a greater range of functions within their business ranged from 80% amongst those who said that they envisaged their business staying the same size over the next few years, to 94% amongst those who envisaged their business would grow moderately, and to 100% amongst those who envisaged their business would grow substantially. There is also some evidence to suggest that businesses would be prepared to pay more for a faster internet/broadband connection in order to use internet/broadband for a greater range of business functions over the next 5 years. Of those businesses prepared to pay less than 10 extra per month extra for faster speeds, 82% said they envisaged using internet/broadband for a greater range of functions over the next 5 years. This figure rises to 88% for those prepared to pay an extra per month, 94% for those prepared to pay an extra per month, and finally 100% for those prepared to pay more than 50 a month for a faster connection. Issues raised by businesses The final section of the questionnaire asked businesses whether they had any general comments about the internet connection received. The main issues raised are given in the chart below. Page 7 of 9

8 Issues raised business issues 28 slow speeds 10 technical issue equity issues 8 8 variable connection poor/unreliable connection 6 6 may consider relocation 4 education/training issues number of respondents An explanation of these issues is given below. Business issues refers to problems which firms face on a day-today basis when using internet/broadband-based applications. Very often the issues are the result of slow speeds. Quite a few businesses mentioned staff would be able to work remotely/work at home if speeds improved. Technical issues refer to obsolete equipment, distances from telephone exchanges hindering the performance of ICT applications. Equity issues quite a few firms thought it unfair that they were paying the same price as their urban counterparts for an internet/broadband connection but they considered to be receiving an inferior service in terms of low speeds. variable/poor/unreliable connection refers to the frustrations experienced by businesses when they upload/download large files when the connection fails or is too slow. Quite a few businesses said they would consider relocating to other areas if the internet connection did not improve. They also thought that poor broadband facilities would act as a deterrent to firms considering relocating to the area. Education/training issues refers to firms being unable to carry out e-learning or training due to poor speeds. Implications for demand stimulation work The results of the survey could usefully feed into any work programme focussing on demand stimulation and raising awareness of the potential benefits which NGA could bring to businesses. Some points are discussed below. Page 8 of 9

9 Of the main applications which businesses use internet/broadband for, conference calls, remote and flexible working, e-learning and training and video-conferencing come below internet/ in terms of use, yet these applications require fast broadband and could provide the most benefits to businesses. So some training/awareness sessions amongst businesses of the benefits of these applications could prove useful. 44% of respondents said their business had a website, but of these respondents 40% said that the estimated proportion of sales made to customers via the website was less than 20%. So there may be some potential in increasing website use or sales via the company website using e-commerce initiatives. At least 50% of respondents said they did not make use of cloud computing applications, or were unaware of the concept of cloud computing using remote access to files. Again, some awareness-raising sessions would be useful here. 77% of respondents said they were very/well informed about broadband and how its ICT applications could influence business competitiveness and productivity (55% fairly well informed, 22% very well informed ). 20% of respondents considered themselves to be not very informed/not at all well informed. Again, some awareness-raising initiatives could take place here amongst the 20% who regard themselves as being not very well informed about the potential which ICT applications could make to their business. The majority of respondents hoped their business would grow moderately over the next few years, but felt that poor internet/broadband connections would prevent them from achieving this aim. Furthermore, there is some indication that businesses would be prepared to pay extra to obtain faster internet/broadband connections, with just under 60% of respondents stating that they would be prepared to pay an extra 30 per month to obtain a faster connection. Prepared by Jonathan Hall Page 9 of 9

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