Business figureheads urge Scotland PLC to feel the need for speed
Leading Scottish business figures have joined forces to issue a stark warning that companies not embracing broadband technology are severely damaging their business potential and competitive advantage. Broadband for Scotland’s ‘business backers’ study shows the extent to which high speed internet access has contributed to the success of some of the country’s most pioneering organisations.
The report identified improved customer service, improved productivity and flexibility, improved supplier communication, and cost savings as the top tangible advantages that broadband brings to business.
On a cultural level, broadband has helped satisfy the increasing demand for flexible working pattems. Organisations as diverse as Aberdeen Football Club, BAA Scotland, British Energy and the Edrington Group cited the ability to work from home as a major business benefit. Connectivity at both home and the office allows seamless working, giving users immediate access to company folders and research facilities.
Businesses of all sectors and sizes were united in praising the speed of broadband.
Jim Spowart, marketing director at adventi, said; ‘After years of being involved with large organisations, such as Standard Life Bank and Intelligent Finance, my move to a much smaller business like Adventi where we’re handling the IT needs of SMEs has been an eye-opener. In particular, I’ve been amazed at the cautious attitudes towards investing in technology and e-business. Taking up broadband should be a straightforward business decision; the benefits, including cost savings, are plain to see; yet many companies feel duty bound to struggle on with slower and inferior internet connections.
Scottish SMEs must get behind the Broadband for Scotland initiative if they’re remotely serious about growing their businesses. High speed internet access will propel them forward in more ways than one.’
Moir Lockhead, chief executive of Firstgroup plc, said ‘We can communicate more effectively with customers, suppliers and employees. The ability to access content rich information quickly is helping us to deliver improved services, travel information and ticketing suppliers to the travelling public.
Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: ‘Any business currently using dial-up technology for access to internet and external systems can significantly improve productivity by moving to broadband. Our network allows us to maintain a global operating model for fund management. Funds are managed in the appropriate timezone by locally based fund managers.’
Shonaig Macpherson, senior partner of legal firm McGrigors said, ”Broadband has significantly benefited our business, allowing us to take full advantage of video conferencing, improving our channels of business exchange, saving costs and assisting us with undertaking research quickly and efficiently.’
Only one in five Scottish businesses have actually made the jump to high speed internet access. This compares to one in four businesses adopting broadband across the entire UK.*
Charlie Watt, senior director for e-Business at Scottish Enterprise, one of the organisations behind Broadband for Scotland said, ‘The fact that many of the country’s leading business figures are supporting our initiative should provide an inspiration to Scottish companies and galvanise them into action. The commercial benefits of always on internet connections are clear in terms of culture, marketing and processes.
So, our message to IT departments and owner managers is don’t get mad, get broadband. A broadband connection, with speeds typically ten times faster than a dial up connection, will help reach new customers, retain existing customers, lower costs and help employee development.’
Recent Scottish Enterprise research showed that one in four Scottish employees, with access to internet in the workplace, are currently wasting up to an hour a day waiting for files to download or documents to be sent. Over the year, this equates to nine and a half lost working days .
Firstgroup’s Moir Lockhead said ‘Broadband for Scotland is a great initiative and I would strongly recommend Scottish businesses to get connected and to take advantage of this technology.’
Source: Scottish Enterprise, www.scottish-enterprise.com, Author: Craig Cowbrough