Businesses are in danger of missing out on the digital revolution and falling behind their more tech-savvy competitors, according to a YouGov survey on behalf of Vodafone UK.
The majority of British businesses do not currently have 4G or an understanding of the extensive capabilities of 4G and the benefits it can bring to business performance. This was revealed in a YouGov study for Vodafone UK into the adoption and perception of 4G amongst more than 1,200 senior decision makers from British businesses and the public sector.
The survey revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said their business or organisation does not have 4G while a staggering 41% of those have no current plans to adopt it.
Despite prices becoming more competitive since 4G first became available, cost ranked as the largest barrier to adoption. However, the survey also revealed another significant barrier – a lack of understanding of what 4G technology is and the benefits it can bring to organisations big and small. In fact, 43 per cent of businesses admitted to having a poor understanding of 4G’s capabilities and of those that do not have 4G, a third said they do not perceive any benefits for their business.
Phil Mottram, UK Enterprise Director of Vodafone UK says, “Businesses need to be ready to take advantage of the tools and technologies that can give them the competitive edge today and in the future. Now is the time for those businesses which are yet to invest in 4G to do so and to start benefiting from its full potential.”
“While the perception of cost is still stopping businesses from taking the step towards 4G, the significant knowledge gap of what it can offer UK businesses is a challenge. With customers’ expectations on service delivery and responsiveness at an all-time high, we have committed ourselves to making 4G more accessible and affordable, with competitive pricing and continuous network investment, enabling businesses to meet their customers’ demands, whenever and wherever staff may be. This has been the driving force behind the extension of our 4G coverage to over 500 cities and towns across the UK and the £1 billion we’ve invested in our network and services in the UK this year.”
The 4G ‘light bulb’ moment
The survey revealed that businesses who have upgraded to 4G clearly understand the ways in which it can help them by improving customer service and enabling flexible working. Benefits cited include:
· Increased speed for data transfer (51%)
· Faster responsiveness to customers (and suppliers) (43%)
· Ability to use all business applications when working remotely (48%)
· Better flexible working (42%)
Interestingly, the majority of businesses that have not yet made the move to 4G also perceived these as benefits of the technology. However, they do not appear to recognise the positive impact that these benefits (from the increased speed and capacity that 4G provides) could have on their business. For example, despite not having 4G, 41% said downloading, transferring and accessing data-heavy content is important to their businesses and nearly all said speed (95%t) and capacity (97%) are key factors when doing so.
With so much on the line for businesses in today’s competitive markets, where every minute counts no matter where you are, those businesses without 4G are potentially losing out against their better connected counterparts. Customers’ expectations of service continue to increase and employees are demanding greater flexibility from employers. 4G’s faster connectivity and greater capacity can enhance a business’ ability to meet these expectations by sharing information with the speed and resilience needed to sustain seamless connectivity.
Are business priorities being impacted by lack of 4G?
As a result of the lack of awareness around 4G’s benefits to enterprise, businesses could be missing out on the bigger prize – how 4G can help them to meet their business priorities. Respondents across all types and sizes of businesses consistently cited, ‘increasing operational efficiency’, ‘improving customer service’ and ‘improving profits’ as their top business priorities. High speed and capacity are intrinsic characteristics of 4G, meaning the technology is a key enabler for effective flexible working, which in turn will contribute to greater operational efficiency, one of the top three business priorities for 50% of businesses surveyed. In fact, 42% of those businesses with 4G agreed that it better enables flexible working.
4G’s enhanced speed and capacity also helps businesses communicate with customers quicker and more effectively through access to information anytime, anywhere – something which will improve customer service – another top priority within the businesses surveyed- and give them the edge over their competitors.
SMEs falling furthest behind in the digital revolution
While there are many businesses yet to embrace the latest in mobile technology, it would appear that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are falling furthest behind in the private sector, with only 24% of those surveyed having 4G compared to 39% of larger businesses.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of SMEs recognise that faster responsiveness to customers and suppliers is amongst the main benefits of 4G, and more than a third (35%) of SMEs confirming that customer service is one of their top three business priorities.
With mobile data usage increasing at an exponential rate, over two in five SMEs (41%) say downloading, accessing and transferring media rich/data heavy content is important to their business and over two-thirds (67%) view mobile connectivity as important, indicating that 3G may not suffice in the long term if they are to remain competitive.
Mottram concludes: “Despite the growing availability and affordability of 4G devices and services, the lack of a true understanding of the benefits that the technology can bring, as revealed by this survey, is undeniably holding enterprises back from reaping the rewards of introducing 4G to their business. This barrier is also preventing businesses from gaining an advantage over their competitors here and abroad in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.”