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November 09, 2012

Lack of digital skills costs UK £63 billion

A new report, The Case for Digitisation, commissioned by Go ON UK and conducted by strategy&, has found that the UK is missing out on valuable revenue because individuals and businesses are not maximising the opportunities offered by the internet.

It has found that some 16 million people in the UK lack basic online skills. These include using a search engine, sending and receiving emails, completing online applications and accessing information online. 10.8 million people in the U.K. do not use the internet at all.

The report also estimates that only one third of SMEs in the UK have a digital presence. and only 14% sell their products and services online.

Digital champion, Martha Lane-Fox, chair of the cross-sector charity Go ON UK, said: "Digital clearly offers growth, particularly to the small and medium-sized enterprise sector. The lack of basic digital skills for millions means 'digitisation' is unbalanced – we will increasingly fall short of the UK's potential if we do not start to address the problem."

The report also said: "The UK is not maximising the potential offered by digital technologies, because too many individuals and organisations are either not using them to their fullest or not using them at all. We estimate that the UK could have increased its annual 2011 GDP by up to £63 billion if it had achieved global leadership in digitisation."

The report concludes that universal digitisation has the potential to unlock substantial economic and social benefits for four sectors in particular: individuals, SMEs, charities, and government.

Commenting on the research, Jim O'Hara, president of e-commerce specialist Ecwid, said: "Being able to sell over the web should be a pre-requisite in today's digital economy, so this new study is a cause for concern. However, today it is easier than ever before to start selling online, whether it is through traditional e-commerce or the newer phenomenon of f-commerce (Facebook commerce)."