The latest Lloyds Bank Business and Charity Index revealed that just under half (45 per cent) of Welsh SME organisations lack the basic digital skills that could drive growth.
By embracing digital skills, UK businesses could generate an additional £85billion in turnover according to the report. Yet only 16 per cent of businesses in Wales are gaining a transactional benefit from trading online domestically, significantly below the UK average of 21 per cent.
This figure falls further when it comes to targeting international markets, with just four per cent of Welsh businesses using online channels to trade overseas.
The report also found that only six per cent of Welsh businesses use digital channels to search and discover growth opportunities for their business.
Worryingly 45 per cent of SMEs in Wales have no interest in developing their cyber security capability.
For those businesses embracing advanced technologies including cloud IT, online accounting software and digital training tools, there is the opportunity to generate more than £100,000 in extra annual turnover, compared to those who have none.
The benefits can go beyond finances too, with 2.5million businesses saving time through digital processes, more than twice as many compared to 2014. Small businesses and charities with advanced digital capabilities are able to save a day a week according to the report.
Carys Williams, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for Wales, said:
“While there’s still more to be done to embrace the full power of digital, it’s heartening to see a significant boost in skills across Wales. In the past three years, digital capability has jumped from 33% in 2015 to 55% today.
“We know from our work with local businesses that having digital skills and a strong online presence can attract new business, both domestically and overseas. With this in mind, it’s disappointing that no more than 16 and four per cent respectively of Welsh businesses are using their digital channels to do this.
“We’re supporting access to digital skills across the nation by hosting regular Digital Know How events and have 1,500 specially trained digital champions based in Wales. We are helping the region’s businesses and charities develop their skills to facilitate growth, as part of our Helping Britain Prosper plan. Over the coming 12 months we will continue to provide free to access training events for SMEs, to help them close the digital skills gap.
One organisation that has embraced digital advancements is Bridgend-based Bang-On Brewery. Six months ago, the business implemented a social media and e-commerce strategy that has boosted its turnover and seen its products sold on Amazon.