While understandably the needs of technology for rural communities tends to focus on broadband, the key to their success is a complete suite of digital services, what our Smart Villages platform offers.
We’re bringing the Cloud to Scotland’s rural small businesses to empower them with state of the art e-commerce capabilities, so that they can digitize their business models and participate more effectively in the online economy.
Unlocking the digital potential of rural areas
In their research Unlocking the digital potential of rural areas, Scotland’s Rural College identify that over half of small businesses describe other challenges beyond high speed access standing in their way of mastering digital.
Successfully doing so could add between £1.2bn and £2.5bn annually in Gross Value Added (GVA) to Scotland’s rural economy and at least £1.44bn to rural business turnover the report says, with almost four-in-five rural business owners believing digital tools and services are important to their future growth potential.
However 52% of rural business owners say they face some form of skills-related obstacle to adopting digital to unlock more growth, such as recruiting people with appropriate skills to finding training for their existing workforce.
Almost a third (30 per cent) have difficulty finding external or outsourced digital connectivity support, 14 per cent have difficulty accessing appropriate external digital training for the existing workforce and one-in-five (20 per cent) say their existing workforce lacks sufficient skills or they struggle to recruit people with appropriate digital skills.
Building a Scottish Digital Nation on the Cloud
This challenge was repeated in for example the Microsoft digital nation blueprint reports that:
“While 75% stated that digital technology was essential to the future growth or competitiveness of their business only 37% of the 4,000 Scottish businesses surveyed stated that their employees were equipped with sufficient technology skills to meet the business’ digital technology needs.
Only 36% invested in an improved company web site and only 17 – 19% have invested in e-commerce sites and Cloud services.
28% still don’t even have a web site!”
The SRC study identified that rural small businesses have correctly determined what they need to address the situation:
Cloud computing is seen as the biggest driver (67 per cent).
This is exactly right. All the leading ‘digital disruptors’, like Netflix and Amazon, achieve their cutting edge business models through leveraging the massive global delivery platform that is the Cloud.
As all the research describes the obvious challenge is skills – Understandably small rural retailers and tiny artisan businesses can’t be expected to have the know how needed to do the same.
So our Smart Village platform and services packages those technologies and skills, into off-the-shelf features and easily accessible to rural SMEs.
Shop @ Biggar.online
Each Smart Village will act as an e-commerce marketplace, a single shopping portal that aggregates the products available from local retailers and artisans. For example the first we’re now setting up is Shop @ Biggar.online.
Like all of Scotland’s rural communities the town offers a wealth of local entrepreneurism producing high quality products that are ripe for selling to a global market.
- Local produce like jams, home-made artisan products.
- Micro-breweries and distilleries, like Biggar Gin.
Smart Villages provide a ‘Destination Management System’ for small rural towns and regions. This is software used by large travel portals like Visit Scotland, intended to showcase venues and destinations via glossy social media marketing.
Our sites provide the same functionality, with the main editorial users being local residents themselves. For example Strathyre created their own tourist resources including the local History of Rob Roy McGregor.