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Why connectivity is top of UK SMEs’ wishlists for enhanced productivity

The latest ONS figures have again placed the UK’s labour productivity rate last among G7 nations. At least it’s growing, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, even if it’s only been by a single percentage point over the last five years.

Greater productivity means a stronger economy and increased business success, and it’s vital that the UK’s combined £217 billion a year SME powerhouse can achieve it. This explains why many SMEs have put themselves in the vanguard of cloud IT adoption, taking advantage of a new, level playing field for digital enablement that no longer puts up barriers to game-changing technologies to all but the biggest corporates.

SMEs are the engine of the economy – but it keeps cutting out

This summer, new research by workplace specialists Storey uncovered a worrying trend that appears to reverse the impact of technology from positive to negative. In its survey of 500 UK SMEs, the two biggest productivity blockers of all were cited as ‘the internet going down’ (47%) and ‘slow internet’ (46%). Both were miles ahead of traditional gripes like employee absence (30%) and lack of meeting room space (9%).

It makes perfect sense. Given the reliance upon connectivity being such a cornerstone of today’s digitally-driven economy, it is inevitable that the things most likely to throw a proverbial spanner in the works will be the failure or lack of performance of your connection.

But what makes this trend really troubling is the frequency at which these brownouts and slowdowns occur.

28% of the Storey sample had experienced internet downtime in the preceding week, while 40% said they’d dealt with slow internet issues over the same period. Dial back to the preceding month and the figures are even higher; 38% saying the internet had gone down and 46% that it had slowed down.

SME internet disruption is unacceptable, not a fact of life

Pretty much every business, it seems, suffers from occasional internet disruption. A recent Spiceworks/Dyn study showed that 89% of organisations experienced some kind of disruption in the last year, with each disruption taking a full business day – on average – to be resolved. 92% were concerned an internet disruption would occur within the next six months.

The fact these numbers are so high says much about the normalisation of the phenomenon in the minds of embattled, hard-working SME business leaders. Is this good enough to support their business dreams? Are they just going to lie down and take it?

It seems obvious that UK productivity will continue to go nowhere fast while a quarter of SMEs suffer internet outages in any given week, and nearly 90% will lose (at least once) a whole business day per year to fix these problems.

“All I want for Christmas is reliable connectivity”

So what do SMEs think will bring them that all-important productivity boost?

Remarkably, 4% of Storey’s SME sample put ‘an office pet’ on their productivity improvement wishlist, but by far the most desired gift was ‘a faster internet connection’ (36%). Strangely, no respondent appears to have asked simply for ‘an internet connection that does what we expect it to do’. Perhaps SMEs have been so numbed by continual disappointment that they no longer believe such a thing is a sensible possibility (though, by contrast, an office pet is).

Clive Christian is a fairly typical SME, based in central London. A renowned luxury brand for perfume and interiors known around the world, Clive Christian is still less than 100 people facing many of the typical challenges every SME experiences. Having put up with internet problems for some time, they decided enough was enough. Anything less than 100% uptime would be to the detriment of their business. You can read the full story in their own words in this case study.

100% Always On

Clive Christian, like many businesses in London, uses Luminet’s 100% Always-On service.
This combines both Fibre and Fibre-Air (i.e. fixed wireless) services to provide a truly diverse and resilient last mile internet connection which comes with a 100% Service Level Agreement (SLA). Because the service uniquely moves across the same static IP addressing between primary and secondary connections, this massively benefits mission-critical applications and services that require static IP addressing such as mail, SIP, video, VPN, e-commerce and trading. Perfect for the VoIP, Office 365, Dropbox and other applications that Clive Christian relies on. Perfect for the cloud-driven IT setups that are increasingly common in SMEs across all sectors.

100% uptime is not something unattainable that you wish for from Father Christmas. It is real and within reach of any business. Contact Luminet to discuss your requirements or find out more.