It’s fairly well known that a lot of the productivity gap between the UK and other industrial countries is accounted for by a long tail of unusually unproductive small businesses (see ONS data here). This fascinating piece in the FT covers a project to do something about that by getting them management advice.
An interesting twitter conversation developed and it was suggested that the decline in the importance of bank managers had something to do with how innovations diffused through the economy, or not.
At Ovum, we recently did some survey research that touches on this. Specifically, we asked samples of people from SMEs about what they did with IT and telecoms technology. One of our questions was “Who do you trust for business and technology advice?” The following slide summarises the results for the 360 UK respondents, who were asked to give their top three choices.
For presentation reasons we applied a cut-off at 5%. Banks, as you can see, just didn’t come into it. Medium-sized firms seem to be much better served by ISPs than smaller ones.
That said, the general pattern was much the same globally, with IT consulting shops and value-added resellers winning out and a long tail of others. German firms were more likely to DIY, South Koreans to seek advice from either customers or suppliers, both results that fit with stylised facts, sorry, prejudices about those countries’ economies.