Superfast connections: it’s not just about infrastructure

The government’s initiative to give every community in the UK access to superfast broadband by 2015 will be judged ultimately in terms of price, choice, coverage – and speed.

But while access to faster, more reliable broadband has become essential for business and for communities – and as a critical feature of promoting economic growth and digital inclusion – planned digital infrastructure developments for improved broadband and ‘Superfast Broadband’ -ready networks alone cannot be expected to deliver the whole package.

YTKO business director Stephen Oliver looks at how the groundbreaking Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) partnership between six local authorities is supporting its infrastructure investment, with a strong, tailored package for effective demand stimulation and support.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) make up the largest, most dynamic and innovative sector of the UK economy. But ‘getting up to speed’ takes more than a superfast connection, particularly when many would-be business users are still unclear about the benefits.

SMEs can achieve genuine, competitive advantages from advances in ICT through innovation, marketing, enhanced productivity and customer responsiveness. And in the South West, Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) recognises not only a lack of relevant knowledge and skills among businesses, but also a challenge in the perceptions and attitudes of small business leaders.

It is estimated that without a programme of demand stimulation and business animation, only 15 per cent of UK businesses will subscribe to superfast broadband. CDS is targeting take up in the order of 50 per cent, by supporting its audiences with a coherent package of demand stimulation, business animation and skills development, specifically designed for busy, ambitious businesses.

Well-Connected Firms Show More Growth

A recent study by Lloyds Banking Group shows that highly digitised SMEs tend to grow faster than those that are less enabled – and those using the Internet across their business report significant benefits, including:

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*Source: Lloyds Banking Group Survey

Recent studies into the use of e-business by SME’s point to an inability to make effective, strategic use of ICT, with a recent report by consultants Booz & Co. estimating that businesses in the UK could unlock almost £19 billion of annual, incremental revenues by adopting digital technologies.

CDS: Delivering broadband support for business users

CDS is boosting the reach of the region’s broadband infrastructure with investment from six Local Authorities working collaboratively to ensure that rural communities are not left out in the cold.

With plans to create an additional £.75 billion of GVA annually by 2020, CDS has commissioned a dedicated programme of free support to sit alongside its infrastructure investment and help business users and communities get up to speed, as a core element of achieving its GVA and sustainability targets.

Within this unique, partnership approach, YTKO Group’s role is to stimulate demand by Devon and Somerset’s business users, while delivering a highly accessible and relevant mix of skills workshops, one-to-one mentoring and events to help users reap the full benefit of improved connectivity.

YTKO Group: A powerful solution for practical user support

As a high-growth SME, a committed user and developer of digital and web-based technologies, and a strategic marketing partner for internationally renowned clients in the private sector, YTKO Group has a deep understanding of the concerns and skills gaps among SMEs – and the ability to bridge the divide for new business users, with inspiration and technical knowledge that translates into highly practical, sustainable user benefits.

For further information about YTKO Group’s broadband support services, please contact Stephen Oliver by email, or call 01392 911013.