The internet: SMEs' recession saviour

The internet will play an important role in SMEs' survival in this recession, says a new report. Surprised?

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The survey by Easynet Connect found that one in five SME leaders believe the internet will be the most important tool in beating the recession. Forty-five percent said the internet would be, if not crucial, then an important factor. Which is hardly a huge surprise. The survey didn't mention people's views on other blatantly handy tools, like eyes and arms.

The survey, of managers at companies with 10-250 employees, found that 74% of small businesses will use the web to grow their company profile, with 52% believing the internet would put them on a level playing field with bigger companies. Forty-six percent were looking to create new products and services on the web, and over 58% looking to use the web to expand into new markets.

Easynet also reckons that the web is the ‘critical difference' between the last recession, in the early 1990s, and the current economic maelstrom. Of course, the internet was still not a mainstream tool in the early 90s. But there are plenty of other differences that could lay claim to being ‘critical' - the sheer scale of the mess, for starters. That said, the internet does provide a very easy alternative for anyone looking to cut costs, be that a switch towards e-commerce, cheaper marketing tools, or simply cutting down on office overheads.

That is reflected in the survey. Seventy-five percent of respondees said they'd adopted remote working to reduce office costs; 52% were looking to use newly affordable video conferencing to reduce business travel; and a third were considering using VoIP to reduce telephone bills.

Easynet's survey may not have provided any ‘critical' revelations, but its previous research did: in the past it found that 71% of UK SMEs ‘could not survive for more than a day without the internet'. With only 45% of respondents to the latest survey saying the web would be even an important factor in the recession, either these SME bosses are very cock-sure, or that 71% figure may have been a little out. As an ISP itself, it may be just possible that Easynet has a virtual axe to grind.



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