25 years on: how digital is driving the evolution of British businesses

A mere thirty years after the first Internet domain was registered, and just over 20 years since the very first online purchase (it was a pepperoni and cheese pizza from Pizza Hut) research carried out by Brunel University, in partnership with technology services firm Applegate, reveals that digital technology is now essential to British businesses.

In 2015, 98% of British businesses have a website, 8 in 10 now manage their finances online, 53% provide flexible-working for staff and remote access, and looking to the future, 63% see digital innovation as a key tool to further enhancing customer satisfaction.

And businesses are just catching up to the mobile era- 41% have adapted their websites for tablets and smartphones.

> See also:The race for complete digitisation

In just 25 years, the world wide web has transformed British business, as Stuart Brocklehurt, CEO of Applegate Marketplace explained.

'Life without a website today is simply unimaginable and businesses big and small are embracing the ability to research, to source, to pay and to manage through digital technologies,' said Brocklehurst.

Engagement is universal, although the research does suggest many businesses can do still more to reap the benefits of digital technology fully.

'For example, whilst they research avidly online, only one in five businesses sell their products online,' said Brocklehurt. 'Also, more needs to be done to help the footing on the UK and internationally.'

The creation of the new annual Applegate-Brunel Digitisation Index (ABDI) to measure digitisation will help provide a benchmark for companies' digital maturity as a business, and by which policy makers can assess the health of businesses and sectors against a consistent measure. It also covers the four main areas of business operations- buying, selling, innovation and management, to assess the take-up and use of digital technologies by businesses across UK regions and sectors.

> See also: The road to digitisation: 3 steps to becoming 'reborn digital'

'The creation of this index to measure digitisation will help provide a benchmark for the business community to ensure it is making the most of technology in order to invest in business growth for the future,' said Brocklehurst.

This new index provides businesses with a means to better understand themselves through assessing what competitive advantage they have or to help prioritise those gaps the yneed to close to enhance their own performance, adds professor Zahir Irani, dean of Business, Arts and Social Sciences at Brunel University.

'We see companies being able to making strategic decisions about where and how they invest based on information taken from this survey.'

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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