Digital Economy Business Survey 2021: findings

Summary of findings from the Digital Economy Business Survey (DEBS) 2021. This publication includes the high level DEBS report, accompanying data tables and the Digital Economy Maturity Index 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic

As we have responded as a nation to the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of digital connectivity, technology, and skills have become more apparent than ever. The internet has provided access to essential services and up-to-date and accurate information, and allowed many businesses the ability to continue to trade throughout lockdown restrictions.

This final section looks at how important digital technology was to businesses during the pandemic, and also presents businesses’ future ambitions of growth in the next year.

Figure 15: Importance of digital technology to the current operation of business in responding to Covid-19 pandemic (%)
A bar chart is shown reporting how businesses rate the importance of digital technology to the current operation of the businesses in responding to Covid-19 pandemic. 40% stated it was essential, 16% very important, 22% important, 12% not important, 9% not at all important, and 1% don’t know.

Base: All businesses (min = 3,346)

Importance of digital technology (see Figure 15)

  • 40 per cent of businesses stated that digital technology was essential to the operation of the business in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic[7], and 38 per cent stated that it was important or very important in their response.
  • 21 per cent did not think digital technology was important to the future of their business (responded not important or not at all important).

Covid-19 Support

  • A quarter (24 per cent) of respondents had applied for Covid-19 support schemes from the UK or Scottish Governments to enhance their businesses’ digital capability.
  • 15 per cent had applied to Covid-19 support schemes to enhance their digital capability and were successful, while 5 per cent were partly successful and 3 per cent weren’t successful with any support applied for.
  • 70 per cent of businesses had not applied for any Covid-19 support schemes to enhance digital capability.

Future outlook

  • 15 per cent of all businesses hoped to grow their business substantially (over 20% per year) in terms of turnover over the next 12 months. 34 per cent expect to grow moderately (below 20% per year) in terms of turnover while 38 per cent expect to remain the same.
  • 6 per cent of businesses expect to become smaller in the next 12 months and 3 per cent expect to contract significantly or even close down.



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