It is taken as axiomatic these days that the future health of the economy depends to a large extent on the growth of small firms. So the findings of the IPPR on the slow take-up of the latest information and telecommunications technology among small businesses, something which could crucially enhance their competitiveness, give cause for concern. One thing that could change this at a stroke, according to a British Chamber of Commerce survey, would be the ability to carry out transactions with government services, such as the Inland Revenue, via the Internet.
More important, the IPPR also makes the point that IT suppliers, government policies, and business advisers treat small firms as a homogeneous mass, when they actually have widely diverse needs. But when IT suppliers eventually do decide to offer niche products tailored to small companies, they will discover, as the IPPR did, that a lack of reliable data hampers their attempts to identify markets. Information across the whole spectrum of small firms’ activities is patchy.