Analysis carried out at Cardiff University reveals the full impact of digital technologies on the productivity of businesses.
The Economic Impact Report for Wales was carried out at Cardiff Business School’s Welsh Economy Research Unit and draws on survey data collected from more than 450 SMEs across Wales.
The findings reveal that broadband-enabled services could improve turnover for around 111,000 SMEs in Wales. Based on a conservative 1% increase in turnover in affected SMEs for illustrative purposes, it is estimated that total sales for SMEs in Wales attributable to broadband adoption could be almost £229m, of which £124m (54%) is derived from superfast broadband-enabled services alone.
Around 32,100 SMEs, of which 16,600 (52%) SMEs were superfast broadband users, also predicted a sustained employment increase. Based on an illustrative assumption of 1% employment increase in affected companies, around 1,752 new employment opportunities are expected to emerge.
Superfast broadband take-up is currently at 42% among businesses. Along with rolling out high speed broadband to business premises via the Superfast Cymru programme, the Welsh Government also provides the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher for businesses which want to benefit from even faster speeds. To ensure businesses make the most of the opportunities on offer it is providing support to SMEs to understand, adopt and exploit the benefits that fast broadband provides through its £12m Superfast Business Wales scheme.
Dr Dylan Henderson, of Cardiff Business School, said: “For the first time, this analysis reveals how far digital services and tools can contribute to the success of SMEs.
“A high proportion of businesses which integrate new technologies such as cloud storage, social media and videoconferening into their work see a notable increase in turnover, as well as a rise in the number of people they employ. Our calculations also demonstrate what this means for the Welsh economy as a whole.
Leader of the House with responsibility for digital Julie James, AM, said: “It is clear that making the most of digital technology is crucial for businesses. In Wales more than nine out of ten premises can now access superfast broadband, which is up from just over half when we began the Superfast Cymru rollout. Some businesses will want even faster speeds, which is why we also provide the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher.
“We want businesses to find out more about how to embrace digital technology and would urge them to use our Superfast Business Wales scheme which is has already provided assistance to 3,000 businesses.
“Investing in broadband infrastructure, as we have done through Superfast Cymru and will continue to do with further rollout, does pay off by providing a boost for businesses and the wider economy as this survey shows.”