Adoption of Key Technologies
Digital technologies are widely recognised as enablers of productivity and drivers of innovation and international trade. They underpin business growth across every sector of the economy and can enhance productivity, allowing for time savings and resources to be freed up and used elsewhere.
This section outlines businesses' adoption of some of the most common digital technologies, including mobile internet, cloud computing, social networking and data analytics. It also details the benefits businesses experience from using digital technology, and cites the most common reasons why some businesses do not make use of digital technologies.
Figure 2: Adoption of key digital technologies (%)
Base: All businesses (min = 3,258)*
*Only businesses with an internet connection (min = 3,160) were asked whether they make use of cloud computing.
Usage of key digital technologies (see Figure 2)
- The most widely adopted digital technologies were making use of mobile internet and technologies  (73 per cent) and having a company website (72 per cent).
- The technologies that saw the greatest increase in use between 2014 and 2017 were social media (from 53 per cent to 66 per cent of businesses) and cloud computing (from 27 to 38 per cent).
- The only technology not to increase in use between 2014 and 2017 was having a company website, which went from 73 per cent to 72 per cent of businesses.
- 7 per cent of businesses surveyed in 2017 made use of online collaborative platforms, such as Airbnb or Uber.  3 per cent of all businesses operated as an online collaborative platform.
- Of those businesses using cloud computing services, 61 per cent used email over a cloud computing service, and 60 per cent used office software such as word processors or spreadsheets.
- 6 per cent of businesses did not use of any of the listed technologies, compared to 10 per cent of businesses surveyed in 2014.
Figure 3: Top three most cited benefits of using key digital technologies (%)
|Generated exposure/raised company profile/increased awareness||78|
|Increased responsiveness/improved customer service||18|
|Improved sales, turnover and/or profits||13|
|Generated exposure/raised company profile/increased awareness||64|
|Increased responsiveness/improved customer service||21|
|Improved sales, turnover and/or profits||10|
|Mobile internet and technologies|
|Employees able to work remotely||53|
|Increased responsiveness/improved customer service||23|
|Can access data or service remotely||48|
|More accurate and targeted marketing||34|
|Increased responsiveness/improved customer service||20|
|Improving data quality/compliance/retention||13|
|Collected vital data||25|
|Increased responsiveness/improved customer service||18|
|Online collaborative platforms ( e.g. Uber, Airbnb)|
|Business travelling is easier or less expensive||34|
|Reaching new markets||23|
Benefits of using specific digital technologies (see Figure 3)
- Overall, the perceived benefits of using specific digital technologies were similar to those reported in the 2014 survey.
- The most commonly cited benefit of having a website and using social media was that it generated exposure for the organisation (78 per cent and 64 per cent respectively stated this).
- 14 per cent of businesses using social media stated that they experienced no benefits at all, a decrease from 18 per cent in 2014.
- Of businesses using mobile technologies, 53 per cent stated employees being able to work remotely as a benefit, while 27 per cent stated that they benefited from increased efficiency as a result of using mobile technologies.
- 48 per cent of businesses using cloud computing stated that they benefited from this technology as it allows data to be accessed remotely, while 23 per cent stated that using cloud computing offered improved security.
- More accurate and targeted marketing was the most frequently cited benefit among data analytics users (34 per cent). 49 per cent of businesses using management software stated that they benefited from increased efficiency from using the software, up from 31 per cent of users in 2014.
Use of digital technologies to guide development of the business
- Of those businesses using at least one of the digital technologies listed in Figure 3, 47 per cent made use of these to capture insights or feedback from customers – up from 35 per cent in 2014.
- Other methods of using digital technologies to guide the development of the business included: Researching competitor products (45 per cent), researching and gathering market data (40 per cent), capturing insights about markets and territories that the business sells to or plans to sell to (40 per cent), and capturing insights about suppliers (33 per cent).
- 23 per cent of businesses using any of the listed technologies had a specific plan or strategy for its use of digital technology in delivering the business, up from 18 per cent in 2014.
Figure 4: How integral the use of specific digital technologies is to the business (%)
Respondents were asked to rate how important each technology they used is to their business on a scale of 1 to 10.
1 = it makes little difference to the business if the technology is not used; and 10 = it is a central part of how the business operates.
Base: All respondents using each technology (min = 510)
|Importance||Company Website||Social Media||Mobile Internet & Technologies||Cloud Computing||Data Analytics||Management software|
|1 – of little importance||10%||11%||5%||4%||8%||4%|
|10 – Central part of business||21%||12%||29%||28%||9%||19%|
Importance of digital technology (see Figure 4)
- Businesses using mobile internet and technologies and cloud computing were most likely to rate these technologies as central to the way the business operates ( i.e. giving it a score of ten).
- For each of the listed technologies, businesses were more likely to consider their use as central to their operation in 2017 than in 2014, with the exception of management software and data analytics.
- Cloud computing was the technology to show the greatest increase in the share of businesses who considered it as central to their operation, rising from 16 per cent of users in 2014 to 28 per cent in 2017.
- More generally, when asked about the overall importance of digital technology to the current operations of the business, 30 per cent of businesses responded that it was essential, compared to 29 per cent in 2014. Just under half (47 per cent) stated that digital technology was either important or very important, while 22 per cent stated that it was not important or not at all important (25 per cent in 2014).
Reasons for not using digital technologies
- 6 per cent of businesses used none of the listed technologies. The most commonly cited reason for not using any of the listed technologies was that the technology in question was not relevant to the business (68 per cent).
- Other reasons for not using any of the listed technologies included: the business is not suited to using these technologies; lack of skills/understanding; and that the business was too small.