Around half (48%) of UK small businesses are using smartphones for email or to use the Internet for business purposes, with a further 9% planning to adopt the technology this year, according to the Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain by The Open University Business School, Barclays and ACCA.
In particular, the more entrepreneurial firms that want to grow even in the current economic climate are driving take-up, with some 65% of these firms using the innovative technology.
The Open University Business School's Professor Colin Gray said, "These quarterly surveys over recent years have seen a strong trend towards the increased use of new ICT and online applications by growth-minded entrepreneurial firms. Britain needs to kick-start and sustain our economy on a longer term basis and technology could provide the answer."
"Businesses are motivated by the ease, decreasing costs and the exceptional increase in power we're seeing in handsets," said Steve Cooper, MD of Barclays Business.
"We've reached a point where smartphones are running many of the applications that once needed a decently powered laptop. Businesses can log-on, make payments, send through an invoice, do their word-processing and catch up on emails while standing at a patisserie in Lille.
"With around half of businesses already accepting or making payments over the Internet, smartphone use looks set to accelerate the trend towards a cashless society."
The news comes amid a backdrop of slightly improved small business sales and employment figures. Transport and travel firms have seen an 8% rise in their sales over the past year while those in health and education increased by 2%. However, there were also some signs of inflationary pressures with more small firms having increased than having cut their selling prices over the past year.
Unsurprisingly, the economic climate and demand is the biggest problem currently cited by businesses [55% of business cited this in their top three], followed by cashflow and slow payment issues [31%]. Despite these difficulties, many businesses are still advertising for business – in fact, while some 40% of all small firms do not advertise at all, of those that do well over half (57%) advertise online, presumably lured by the relatively low costs.”
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For further information please contact Rachel James, Media Relations Officer, The Open University Tel: 01908 653343 Mob: 07747 898 468 E-mail: email@example.com
Notes to Editors
About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest higher education institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.5 million students and has more than 250,000 current students, including 20,000 overseas, learning in their own time using course materials, online activities and content, web-based forums and tutorials and through tutor groups and residential schools.
The OU has been highly rated for teaching quality, and has been at the top of student satisfaction rankings in the National Student Survey since it was introduced in 2005. 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and three out of four FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.
The OU supports a vibrant research portfolio and in the UK's latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008), the University climbed 23 places to 43rd, securing a place in the UK's top 50 higher education institutions
Regarded as Britain's major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast 'open content portfolio' includes free study units on OpenLearn and materials on iTunes U. The OU has a 40 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Life, Coast, James May's Big Ideas and The Money Programme.
Barclays services to SMEs include:
Barclays Business is the business banking arm of Barclays. It has over 700,000 - customers that are a mixture of start ups, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.
• A choice of business accounts that they can tailor to their needs and the provision of up to two years free banking to start-ups, subject to remaining in credit.
• Day to day business banking support through an award winning team of Business Managers who are available over the telephone for everyday and urgent banking needs during the daytime, evenings and weekends.
• A support line that customers can use to talk directly to a Barclays lending specialist to discuss additional financing options.
• Free consultations for businesses with a local accountant, marketing expert and solicitor to advise on topics such as the best legal status, how to advertise or draft supply contracts.
• A free nationwide business seminar and workshop programme. This is designed to help business owners network and gain practical help on relevant challenges such as marketing, trading online or how to generate more business profits. Over 12,000 delegates have attended one of Barclays 800 business seminars this year.
• Business management software that helps business customers complete their account work quickly and efficiently; support their hiring efforts; help back up their business data securely; and avoid late payment and bad debts.
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