The Yorkshire SME Internet Connectivity and Business Growth Survey 2015

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1 The Yorkshire SME Internet Connectivity and Business Growth Survey 2015

2 Foreword by David Tindall This survey took place in May 2015, when Talk Straight joined forces with Yorkshire Business Insider to get valuable feedback from Yorkshire SMEs about their broadband connectivity and how closely this is linked with business growth and development. The survey provided some interesting results from a broad spread of companies across Yorkshire. What was most interesting was the diversity of size and industries of these companies. It is good to see that Yorkshire remains a strong base for professional services, manufacturing and construction. Results have confirmed that the majority of companies are now largely dependent on their internet connection for their business activities, with over 93% of companies saying they use Wi-Fi. When we asked about broadband, the large majority of businesses stated that speed was the most important factor but most said that overall they were most satisfied with reliability, revealing that many would like to have faster broadband. As an approved supplier in the Government s Superfast voucher scheme, we were very surprised that so few SMEs are aware that they can get a grant to install faster broadband to their premises. Half of the companies surveyed said that they heard of the scheme but weren t sure what it was or knew about the scheme but hadn t looked into whether their company could qualify. Shockingly, almost a quarter of companies said that they had not heard of the Government s Superfast Broadband scheme at all. Proof to us that the Government needs to be doing more to generate awareness, particularly now that the scheme has been extended until March 2016 with 50 towns and cities eligible. Over half of the companies surveyed are utilising cloud hosted services but an overwhelming 70% said that they were concerned about data security and some are even holding back because of it. Given recent publicised incidents, it is not surprising - but this also reveals a lack of awareness from SMEs about the availability of hosted security and Unified Threat Management, which can be included as part of their broadband service. This could protect their data from intrusion as well as advanced persistent threats. About Talk Straight Group Talk Straight is an Internet Service and Telecoms provider to businesses across the UK. The company has partnerships with all the UK broadband network providers, giving businesses the fastest possible broadband technology together with protection from one of the world s leading online security providers, Fortinet. 2

3 What are the main aim(s) for your business over the next year? This question aimed to determine where businesses would be applying their most focus and the most investment over the financial year. Respondents were allowed to choose 3 options and these were not weighted. Naturally, most said they were interested in increasing turnover. Most surprisingly, many businesses showed least interest in entering markets outside the UK either in Europe or internationally. Percent answered question 90 skipped question 9 Count To increase turnover 80.0% 72 Launch a new service, brand or product 33.3% 30 Invest in staff 33.3% 30 Reduce costs by streamlining business processes and reducing waste 31.1% 28 Improve customer retention 30.0% 27 Improve customer service 30.0% 27 Invest in new technologies 25.6% 23 Expand into new premises 14.4% 13 Enter markets outside Europe 8.9% 8 Enter the European market 1.1% 1 3

4 If you could choose one aspect of your internet service to improve, what would it be? This question asked businesses what they thought was the weakest aspect of their current internet service. Price and reliability were balanced, but over half said they d like to see an improvement in speed. None of the companies surveyed said that they needed a better SLA, which would lead us to conclude that most, if not all have never experienced an internet outage. Very few felt that customer service needed improvement, which could reflect either an overall satisfaction or reveal that most had not needed to contact their internet service provider recently. Percent Count Speed 53.3% 40 Reliability 21.3% 16 Price 22.7% 17 A comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) 0.0% 0 Customer service from the supplier 2.7% 2 answered question 75 skipped question 24 4

5 With which aspect of your internet connection are you most satisfied? This question asked businesses to choose the strongest aspect of their internet connection. Reliability scored highest, reaffirming our theory that few had experienced any long-term loss of service. Only 25.7% had chosen speed, which would again indicate that there is a level of dissatisfaction in this area. Percent Count Speed 25.7% 19 Reliability 40.5% 30 Price 21.6% 16 A comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) 4.1% 3 Customer service from the supplier 8.1% 6 answered question 74 skipped question 25 5

6 What kind of broadband connection do you currently have to your business? This question revealed some unexpected answers, with almost 1/3 of companies stating that they are still using a copper line ADSL connection, even though many will now have fibre installed to their nearest street cabinet which would give them a faster connection. 20% have a leased line, which indicates they have larger premises, probably with a higher number of employees. Only a handful have Fibre-to-the Premises, a lesser known type of fibre technology which is becoming more widely available. Many respondents skipped this question or were not able to answer, indicating an overall lack of knowledge by business leaders and owners about the differing types of technology available today and whether their business could access something better. Percent Count ADSL 33.8% 22 FTTC (also known as Fibre, BT Infinity or Superfast Broadband) 24.6% 16 FTTP 4.6% 3 A dedicated leased line 20.0% 13 I do not know 16.9% 11 answered question 65 skipped question 34 6

7 Does your business have a back-up internet connection? This question looked to explore whether businesses had considered the implications of what might happen if their main internet connection developed a failure. Certainly, those relying on cloud-hosted data, services or apps would be badly impacted without a failover in place. Surprisingly, less than half said they had a back-up connection. This could be a reflection of the steady level of service and reliability they experience from an existing connection and why they have not been initiated to consider the business continuity implications should their sole line fail. Percent Count Yes 38.7% 24 No 61.3% 38 answered question 62 skipped question 37 7

8 Are you aware of the Superfast Britain scheme that will award SMEs with a grant of up 3,000 for a faster internet connection? The answers to this question were most surprising, with only a handful of companies having taken advantage of the Government s voucher scheme. Almost a third said that they had heard about the scheme but hadn t really looked into whether their business would qualify and 19% said they had heard about it but didn t understand how it might benefit their business. There is a definite need for more education to businesses about this offer. Percent Count Yes, and our business has already used the voucher scheme to get a faster connection 10.9% 7 Yes, we are familiar with the scheme but haven t looked into it 26.6% 17 We looked into the scheme but found that we did not qualify or could not get a faster speed 18.8% 12 I have heard of it but am not quite sure what it is 18.8% 12 I have not heard of the Superfast Britain/Superconnected Cities scheme 25.0% 16 answered question 64 skipped question 35 8

9 What could the Government do to better support the SME? This was designed as a follow up to the Superfast Broadband voucher question to hear what businesses thought the Government could also be doing to help SMEs. Respondents were allowed to choose up to 3 answers. Over a third agreed that making regulations and paperwork easier would help them, whilst many agreed that reducing tax thresholds would be of benefit. Over a 1/4 believe there are too many barriers to selling into the public sector, and that the Government could make it easier for private companies to sell to public organisations. Very few wanted advice about entering the European market, either because there are few barriers here or because most businesses are satisfied selling solely to the UK domestic market. Percent Count Provide more central funding 30.2% 19 Create better employment laws 20.6% 13 Make regulations and paperwork easier to understand 36.5% 23 Reduce tax thresholds 34.9% 22 Give more free advice and support on entering the European market 9.5% 6 Make it easier to sell into public sector organisations 28.6% 18 Other (please specify) 2 2 answered question 63 skipped question 36 9

10 Which telecoms services does your business currently use? This question aimed to investigate whether businesses were making the most of their internet connection by taking additional services. The good news is that almost all businesses now provide Wi-Fi for staff, allowing them to work more flexibly around the workplace. More than 50% are capitalising on the cost savings that come with SIP Trunking and VoIP, effectively harnessing their internet connection to transmit voice data. However, there are still many who are not. This could indicate a lack of education and awareness of the benefits of VoIP. Only a handful of companies are allowing personally-owned devices to be used in the workplace. This could be due to concerns about a lack of control of third-party devices, worries about data security or a fear of viruses and malware spreading to the company network. Percent Count Wi-Fi 93.4% 57 SIP trunking 14.8% 9 VoIP hosted telephony 44.3% 27 Mobile Phones 91.8% 56 A BYOD device policy for staff 11.5% 7 answered question 61 skipped question 38 10

11 Are you currently using any cloud-based services? Cloud hosted services have come under a lot of criticism recently and we wanted to see how this might affect the uptake of cloud hosted services, applications and storage by SMEs. Almost half the companies surveyed said they were already using cloud services with a further 25% already considering it, revealing that many are aware of the advantages of the cloud. Surprisingly, 16.4% said they would never consider using the cloud. With a large number of legal firms based in Yorkshire, this aversion may be born out of worries about security, particularly where the storage of sensitive, confidential data is concerned. Percent Yes and have been doing for some time 50.8% 31 Only cloud-hosted security for our internet connection 8.2% 5 We are looking into cloud based services but don t use them at present 24.6% 15 We would not consider cloud based services 16.4% 10 answered question 61 skipped question 38 Count 11

12 What would be the main barriers that would prevent your business from using cloud-based services? This question aimed to dig deeper into why some companies had rejected cloud adoption. Respondents were allowed to select more than one answer. Not surprisingly, concerns about data security came out as the main reason with 70% of respondents choosing this option. Loss of control and lack of IT knowledge were also key issues. Percent Lack of internal IT knowledge and experience 16.7% 5 Concerns about cost 10.0% 3 Loss of control 26.7% 8 Concerns about data security 70.0% 21 Don t really understand the benefits 6.7% 2 answered question 30 skipped question 69 Count 12

13 If money was no object, what kind of technology or digital innovation would benefit your business? This was an open answered question, posed for a bit of fun and gave business owners the chance to reveal their wish lists! Superfast 4G service wherever we go in the UK! Flawless Androids with long battery lives. Improved hardware and remote working Better advice and training for the simple business owner who is not an IT expert. An advice helpdesk for IT problems would be handy too. The Cloud & smart marketing Ideally every one of our staff would have their own tablet to work on. Then we wouldn't have the delay associated with posting and returning the paperwork back to the office. Better computers, high speed broadband and improved software that is compatible with tablets. 13

14 Appendices Information about the companies that responded to our survey. Turnover Number of employees Businesses by sector 14

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