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The majority of smaller businesses would like to improve their productivity but many lack the knowledge of how they could potentially use technology to do so, according to a new study.

The poll of micro-businesses, undertaken by YouGov on behalf of web hosting services provider 123-reg, found that nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said they would like to boost their productivity. Of these businesses however, only a third (33%) actually had firm plans in place that would help them achieve this goal.

According to recent government estimates, giving just five hours a week of lost productivity back to SMEs could generate an extra £23 billion of revenue for the economy as a whole. Lost productivity could be caused by a number of factors, including slow internet speeds and lacking the best technology or the knowledge of how to best implement it.

When asked to list factors that negatively impacted on productivity, 85% of respondents cited managing complex IT issues. Some other reasons given included admin (28%), managing communication with customers (17%), travelling to meetings (11%) and tax and National Insurance issues (9%).

With the appropriate knowledge and systems in place, technology could help to streamline a number of these issues, such as communicating with customers online or replacing some face-to-face meetings with VoIP video chats.

Some 31% of businesses surveyed agreed that they could make more money if they were more productive. This could be very important for small business operating on tight margins who could potentially find themselves facing business insolvency should their operations take a turn for the worse 

Many micro-businesses were embracing some aspects of technology. 64% had set up a company website more than three years ago, acknowledging the benefits it could bring. Very few had linked their day-to-day business processes to their online presence however.

Many were also using older or outdated apps and systems. 82% of respondents made use of Microsoft Office products but 65% were using older versions of the software. Many were also unaware of the extent to which products such as office suites could be used to save time and boost productivity.

By Phil Smith

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