Mobile: a key driver of the economy

The Chancellor will be putting the finishing touches to his budget statement due on Wednesday. Naturally, there will be a clamour of differing opinions over what measures may be necessary to keep our economy on a steady path of growth. I want to take this moment to consider the transformation that is occurring in our economy and the role that digital and mobile connectivity is having in this regard.

There can be no doubt the digital economy is being driven by the proliferation of mobiles and the digital services it facilitates. New figures released by O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research last week suggest that the UK’s leasing and rental sector is one of the fastest-growing industries, facilitated by sharing economy businesses, such as Uber and Airbnb.

As a business, what interests us is seeing how organisations adapt to this change and embrace the opportunities that it presents. Since mobile networks were launched over 30 years ago, connectivity has transformed society; from the way we connect to how we spend our leisure time. In that time it has transformed our economy as well, from the way consumers access and pay for goods and services to how leaders shape and lead their organisations. It is having a transformative impact on everything that we do.

The good news is that we are only starting on this journey. O2 has commissioned a study by Trajectory to explore the role mobile plays in connecting the diverse strands of our economy and powering our working lives. It draws on expert voices and exclusive new data, including a survey of over 450 senior business leaders from small, medium and large organisations across different sectors, to understand the impact of mobile and the connectivity it provides. So, why does this matter?

Essentially, it is helping us to understand how well we are embracing the change mobile is facilitating. For example, 78% of large businesses we surveyed were provided with smartphones compared to 62% in small businesses. This is worth highlighting because it suggests small-to-medium enterprises have not yet fully embraced the transformative potential of mobile. Similarly, in the public sector only 59% of public sector organisations we surveyed were provided with a smartphone, compared to 74% in the private sector. Given the reductions in public spending and the pressure that creates on services, mobile provides organisations with the ability to deliver savings, but also work in more effective ways.

Over the coming weeks, we will release the main findings of the report in a series of blogs, examining sectors from small-to-medium enterprises to the public sector and how it is enabling more effective ways to deliver citizens’ needs. The UK is well-placed to expand on its capabilities around mobile connectivity. However, without the prioritisation of digital infrastructure, we risk falling behind in an increasingly competitive ‘global village’. To stand still, is to go backwards in an economy which competes on a global stage.

I look forward to hearing what is announced in the budget statement.