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04 Dec 2013

It is tremendous to be part of the digital age in Surrey and support the aspirations of the local businesses to become a world class county leveraging the tremendous opportunities that improved access to the Internet can give every individual and business here.

But how will the economy of Surrey grow as a result? Of course those companies within the digital sector will now have an improved speed and a growing number of users and fans of their services and products. My interest sits with the no-digital sector, the general business that needs to embrace the digital world into their marketing, processes and even into their delivery of their services and products.

Surrey Connects commissioned Digital Business Britain to undertake a set of focus groups and a survey to ascertain the ‘readiness’ of our local companies to improve their skills and embed digital talent into their companies for their future growth and in some cases survival.

The results were worrying. Compared to National results, Surrey appeared complacent toward this new opportunity.  If we consider that 95% of our UK companies employ less that 9 employees, yet contribute a fantastic £600bn to the UK revenue, then surely this sector needs to have the skills to maintain and grow their businesses. In our focus groups we learned that investing in skills is a very random and usually low priority for small businesses. I suppose if we looked into the P&L’s of many Micro Businesses few would have a forecasted line of a Skills Budget in their annual plans.

Surrey have invested £20million into a Broadband provision for each of us. This is like the roads that were invested in to ensure that we could drive. Imagine having the M25 and no cars on it, or worse slow, badly skilled drivers? We have to learn to drive on these Internet roads and maximize the economic advantage. The forecast is that this investment will bring back a return to Surrey of £28m, shaping the way we work and improving flexible working arrangement.

I recently learned that a business paid £500 to have their Twitter account set up by an agency? Not in Surrey I hasten to add. However, we are aware that ‘where there is mystery, there is margin’ and we want to help Surrey companies employ digital talent and build great digital strategies for their companies.

If you are a company that would like this support tell us, we have many companies that would like to support you in Surrey and we are seeking to start seminars and workshops to help you.

For more information on Superfast Broadband, visit

Penny Power Twitter @pennypower