Wales can justifiably claim to be the home of song and of the male-voice.
It can also claim to be the home of provincial rugby, but what it can never claim to be, according to an article on the BBC, is the driving force of. The article uncovered the fact that 4 out of every 10 businesses in the valleys does not have or operate a website, and is consequently losing ground in terms of internet marketing potential to the majority of other countries.
Google also discovered that that only 33% of SMEs are e-commerce enabled; a figure well below the UK average.
It was perhaps not really a co-incidence that the article was published at the same time as Google announced that it was aiming to work hand-in-hand with the Welsh government as part of a year-long campaign to stimulate the presence of Welsh business on the internet.
84% of small businesses in Wales say they use the internet in some way: the comparable UK figure stands at almost 90%. In order to help these SME’s overcome these difficulties, Google has pledged to both help the struggling SME’s to establish a web presence, and build and improve on some of the websites that are currently running. Google’s spokesperson, Laurian Clemence explained:
“You are really missing out if you can’t be found online. We do believe there are definitely more benefits than not. The key thing is that people who have their business online see their business grow four to eight times faster than those that don’t.”
“We realised that Wales was lagging behind in the adoption of web presences for SMEs. There is a lot of opportunity there to help them get a website for the first time or if they do have a website improve it.”
As part of its commitment to Wales and Welsh business, Google plans to run one-to-one advice sessions for SMEs, as well as providing road shows that will feature tutorials, workshops and expert advice. The search giant will run an initial drive in South Wales for three months, whilst equipping a team of specialists with the expertise to advise small business owners across the rest of Wales for the remaining nine months. The campaign is the first time Google has committed to an on-the-ground programme of this length anywhere in the UK – and is the company’s first major visit to Wales.
Commenting on the initiative, Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, said:
“We want Wales to be a truly digital nation and our Next Generation Broadband project is geared to ensure that all residential premises and businesses in Wales have access to high speed broadband by 2015. We welcome this initiative to help companies gain maximum benefits from using and exploiting digital technologies to innovate, grow and access new markets, driving business growth. Digital technologies and online services have the potential to revolutionise the competitiveness of business and I hope as many as possible take advantage of the expertise on offer from Google.”
Managing director of Google UK, Dan Cobley added:
“The internet provides a barrier-less platform for businesses to grow, so we are excited about coming to Wales for a year-long series of events to show business owners how easily this can be done. We will be working alongside the Welsh Government and local partners to ensure our time spent with local entrepreneurs will make a real difference to their businesses and, in turn, the Welsh economy in creating jobs through digital means. We will run thousands of free consultations to boost local business across four regions of Wales.”