Driving Meaningful Use For Businesses
When it comes to meaningful use of Internet applications that drive business growth, many small-medium enterprises (SMEs) are falling behind. They are challenged to do what they should and could be doing online to grow their business. There are a number of reasons for this including a lack of time, skills, knowledge and resources to effectively to determine what, why, and how they should do more online.
This is critical as effective business use of the Internet and its applications promotes local competitiveness and growth, especially with small-medium enterprises. Community leaders with an interest in truly harnessing the power of broadband and its applications to foster innovation and growth need to help businesses overcome these barriers to better leverage broadband’s potential.
SNG’s extensive research across North America reveals that higher business utilization of the Internet has a direct and positive impact on business financials – revenues, cost savings, and earnings. In short, driving broadband utilization has a positive impact on local economies, creating more (and better) jobs, opening opportunities for innovation, and aiding in business attraction and retention.
This does not mean that the majority of SMEs do not understand the correspondence to utilization and growth. In fact, the smaller the business is. SNG research shows these businesses unclear on benefits while having barriers to adoption that are by no means insurmountable. Reasons for NOT moving forward include:
- Time and effort required to develop expertise
- Lack of internal resource with necessary skills
- Too much information – not enough time to research
- Lack of local external support resources
- Affordability of local external support resources
- Higher priorities to focus on
Lack of adequate speed further hinders full utilization, but bigger barriers exist. Many SMEs lack understanding on HOW to overcome barriers including privacy, security, and cost.
Economic development professionals have a compelling opportunity to confront this situation with activities to help businesses learn, fill the knowledge gap, and better understand just how much is to gain from a relatively low investment of time. Whether you deploy SNG’s solution, the Small Business Growth Program, or develop your own, make sure your efforts include the following steps:
- Create awareness of the opportunities and their potential importance to each business.
- Provide easy to access and easily digestible information to enlighten businesses on what is possible and reduce the fear of the unknown.
- Facilitate access to experts and others who can coach businesses through a process that provides a clear path to realizing these opportunities.
Communities across the nation are investing millions of dollars to upgrade their broadband but if they neglect to ensure that local businesses understand and have what it takes to use the transformative power of broadband, their returns on their investment will fall short. Deliberate targeted effort to driving full use of the power of broadband will fulfill the potential and maximize economic benefits.