Britain's small and medium-sized businesses are not making the most of improved broadband technology.
This is according to a new report by think tank the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), which said firms are not capitalising on opportunities for connectivity despite the potential for £18.8 billion of economic gains.
The organisation provided a number of recommendations on what can be done to help companies better understand broadband and increase take up. It called for the government to improve its understanding of the needs of small businesses when it comes to the internet and wants policy makers to have better information about how being online benefits these firms.
Pamela Learmonth, BSG chief executive, stated: "Whilst tackling infrastructure issues is costly and time-consuming, understanding usage of infrastructure and communicating the benefits of doing more online is arguably even more challenging."
"Given the high importance of capturing the economic benefits from both private and public investment in broadband, we hope this report is a useful input, building on existing initiatives to ensure the UK’s SMEs really do capitalise on the connectivity available to them," she added.
The organisation has also called on the coalition to drive small business use of the internet through its engagement with companies via government services and transactions. It suggested offering discounts for firms who submit VAT returns online is one way of doing this.
This report follows earlier research from O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research, which claimed British businesses are currently missing out on £30 billion each year due to a lack of connectivity.
According to the organisations, the nation's productivity has fallen five per cent since the recession and this could be remedied by companies using broadband to allow for more efficient practices such as flexible and mobile working.
In a survey of businesses, they found eight in ten think their staff do not have access to online tools, like apps and instant messaging, that would help them get more work done.