According to research conducted by Santander Corporate & Commercial, UK SMEs will spend £53bn jointly in the coming two on their digital connectivity and capabilities.

The survey reveals that over the past year, the average UK SME has committed / invested £33K in their digital capacity and intend to spend a further £28K in the next 24 months.

Many of the firms surveyed said they were investing substantially more than the mean average. And the biggest spenders are those in the IT and financial services sectors. This trend is expected to continue.

There is a distinct regional segmentation to the highest spenders and investors, as might be expected. London tops the league table with an average spend of £42K, with the Midlands and South East of England following close behind.

Stephen Dury, Managing Director SME Markets and Business Development at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “Investment in digital capabilities can significantly enhance business growth opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses. Just having a functional website can have a dramatic impact on a firm’s visibility and connectivity with customers and other stakeholders. However, while it is great to see that many firms are focused on this, the concern is that a significant number are still failing to invest effectively and are therefore missing out on these opportunities.”

Julian Robinson, founder and Managing Director of Penstone Communications agrees. “It is more important than ever for companies to connect with their customers – wherever and whenever that may be necessary. If a company doesn’t make it easy for their customers and clients to get in touch with them – whether via the Internet, by app or by landline or mobile phone – then they are liable to ‘shop’ elsewhere.

“We are living in a fast-moving global market place, and however much some may wish it were different, if a company wants to retain it’s market share, it is vital to stay at the forefront of digital and voice technology.”

As if to underpin the research, the European Commission has published its digital strategy. With cross-border trading increasing, it includes a variety of issues – from removing barriers to the use of cloud services to reforms on copyright laws.

Where infrastructure is concerned, Julian says: “It is vital not to over-regulate telecoms companies. Additional regulations will bring additional costs, which will in turn impede companies investing as much as they would like or need to and it will slow down their growth potential. ”

For more information call Penstone on 0800 074 4414.