Google – bridging the ‘digital divide’
14th September 2022
Irish SMEs are investing in digitalisation to help future proof their businesses and operate more cost effectively at a time when they are concerned about the economy and rising costs of doing business according to a new survey commissioned by Google Ireland and conducted by Amárach.
The survey, commissioned ahead of Google’s International Small Business Week, found almost three quarters (72%) of SMEs surveyed said that surviving the current period of economic uncertainty is a key priority over the next 12 months, while 71% are prioritising revenue and profit growth.
In addition, the rising costs of doing business is a key concern for 63% of SMEs in the year ahead.
Despite this economic uncertainty and concern around rising costs, businesses recognised the impact that investing in digitalisation can have on managing costs and supporting growth. Almost half (48%) of SMEs stated that digital skills and tools allow them to operate more cost effectively while 60% use them to connect with customers and 46% say it opens up new markets for their business. Further demonstrating the value of digital, 61% of those surveyed stated that digital skills are essential to future proofing their business.
When it comes to upskilling in digital, Irish SMEs are motivated to learn and willing to put in the time, with over 40% of SMEs surveyed having engaged in digital skills training over the past 12 months. However, there are still 20% of SMEs having not completed any digital skills training in the last two years and 19% having never completed any digital skills training at all.
Alice Mansergh, Director of Small Businesses at Google, said: “It is really encouraging to see that Irish SMEs are embracing digital skills and tools to help them navigate this period of uncertainty and future proof their business. Notably, half the businesses surveyed see digital skills as indispensable to their business at this time.
Today there is a digital divide, whereby even though more than 90% of Irish consumers are online, 45% of Irish businesses do not have a website.
Helping businesses gain digital know-how and confidence are key to bridging the divide, and strengthening Ireland’s SME sector. That’s why Google has come together with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices to offer free training support for all.
Through our You’re the Business programme we’re providing free accessible training, in person or online helping businesses get online, grow online and expand internationally.”
You’re the Business is a digital platform offering Irish SMEs access to free live and on-demand training sessions, geared toward supporting companies at all stages of their digitalisation journey. In addition, ten participants that demonstrate a commitment to digital will be awarded with a suite of customised supports, including mentorship and ad funding. In order to be considered as one of the ten firms to receive a package of tailored supports, SMEs can submit a video [via the You’re the Business site] detailing what their business means to them, as well as an example of how they have used digital to enhance their business. Submissions must be uploaded by 30th September 2022.
The survey also found that 66% of Irish SMEs believe that Ireland is a good place to own and operate a small business with 51% of those citing access to government supports like training and funding as a reason for that.