SME digital growth stunted by lack of skills and budget
Eight out of 10 smaller Irish businesses have acknowledged the need for greater skills and training in digital business, according to a survey by Red C for eircom Business Solutions.
Three quarters of these businesses have expressed a desire to learn more about harnessing the power of social media, and nearly two thirds (60%) of those surveyed claimed they are not maximising their use of analytics in their business. With regard to sales and marketing, almost half (48%) of smaller businesses said they hope to implement an e-commerce option for their business in the future, while budgetary restrictions are an issue for many, with nearly two thirds saying they lack the financial resources to implement new channels for advertising.
“An estimated 47,000 businesses in Ireland either don’t have a web presence or do business online and our research shows this is largely due to budgetary constraints combined with a lack of technical expertise,” said David Walsh, director of SME and Commercial, eircom Business Solutions.
“Additionally, the Nielsen Global Survey revealed that e-commerce sales worldwide will reach $1.5 trillion in 2014, increasing nearly 20% over 2013 – so it is vital that Irish businesses are equipped to exploit this valuable market.”
In order to help businesses tackle these issues, eircom Business Solutions has launched the “Digital Boost” initiative. This is a €250,000 seed fund for Irish SMEs looking to innovate and grow their business through investment in digital solutions.
Eircom said that the fund is designed to offer “tangible assistance to the SME community in four key areas: business mobility; digital training; sales and marketing; and business productivity”. The company has partnered with Google, PayPal, Samsung, the Digital Marketing Institute and Salesforce to deliver a suite of digital funding to successful applicants.
“Digital Boost is one of a number of initiatives we have developed to provide support to Irish SMEs,” said Walsh.
“This fund,” he added, “is designed to address these challenges and will complement and hopefully boost the government’s National Digital Strategy which has committed to getting 2,000 businesses online before the end of next year and has the potential to create 150,000 jobs by 2020.”
Applications for funding will be accepted over three rounds, between October 2014 and June 2015, and at the end of each round, eircom said, an expert panel will award successful applicants, with funds to spend with the partners on technology and digital related support.
The initiative is open to all SMEs and mid-market enterprises, and businesses can apply by uploading a short video or a five slide presentation to the Digital Boost web site outlining their funding proposal and the fund area they require. Tips on how to apply and details on the expert panel of judges are available online.
For further information and to apply to the Digital Boost fund visit eircom.ie/digitalboost