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UK small businesses look to IT innovation to attract and retain staff in 2012


More than half of UK small businesses say IT is an integral part of their drive for business growth, increased innovation and productivity according to research released today from the Epson Business Council.

Almost six out of 10 (57%) of British businesses say modern IT is vital for staff productivity, one in four (27%) thinks it helps attract and retain staff and only 2% think it is an unnecessary expense.

But UK small businesses lag 'significantly' behind European counterparts covered by the study: in France and Germany, where 76% consider IT integral to growth, 73% in Spain and 68% in Italy.

This attitude is manifest in the technology in use; over one in four (27%) of British small businesses use smartphones and 38% use tablets - again, at the French and German counterparts, this number is even higher, with over half using tablets.

Chris Price, MD at Epson UK, said: "Whether it's the cost burden, or a natural British conservatism, our attitude isn't as bullish for the impact new technology could have on further growth as our European counterparts. That said, British small business owners do have a very healthy view of the general role technology can play in driving business growth, and clearly put in the money and time required to ensure staff are equipped with the modern tools they need to do their jobs efficiently."

UK micro-businesses show a strong commitment to using the latest technology with the average age of most of the technology in use being around 2.2 years, often much newer than in many other European countries, which are closer to the 2.5 year mark. 70% of British small businesses say that they replace IT equipment every two years, recognizing its importance to the business.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, added: "2012 is looking to be an uncertain year for any kind of business, but these findings seem to indicate that the innovative spirit of the British entrepreneur is alive and well, in embracing new technologies and looking for new ways to deliver growth."

Sara Murray, founder of Confused.com and personal emergency response service Buddi, said: "Modern technology has the potential to not only increase productivity and growth but can provide the means with which small businesses can evolve their business models - something that may be necessary in a fast-moving and volatile market. It is the responsibility of small business owners to consider how modern technology can help them keep pace with the times, and look to make the right investment."