A new scheme looking to boost the technological performance of the West Midlands has been launched - with the aim of helping 200 businesses in the first year.
Business Link West Midlands has designed an innovative new website (www.businesslinkwm.co.uk/tapintoit) that will engage with companies who want to make the most of IT in their operations, whether that be in sales and marketing, productivity and in winning new business.
The project comes on the back of recent research, which shows that the main barriers of entry remain lack of time, cost and that some firms see IT as an unnecessary expense.
"Technology is absolutely crucial and touches every sector imaginable," said LynBurkett, project leader and a main driving force behind the initiative.
"With this in mind, we wanted to help local companies make the most of IT by offering them initial information, expert guidance and in-depth assistance when embracing this area. www.businesslinkwm.co.uk/tapintoit will act as the first point of entry into this world of support and will give information and opportunities for anyone looking to exploit IT."
The website, which is being funded by Advantage West Midlands, went live on February 1 and has already received 500 hits from companies keen to access the service.
At the heart of the offer will be a focus on marketing and how IT can play a key role in monitoring the behaviour of customers and in communicating offers quicker and more effectively.
There is also a concerted look at how technology can make businesses more efficient by introducing new systems, programmes and managing key contacts through a central database. Lyn added: "The third and final area is growth and ensuring that you are delivering the right product to the right market at the right price. Simple accounting packages can help you assess your performance, an online presence can drum up new business and office systems can help your staff communicate and share information where needed. Plans and financial models can all be handled electronically and the ability to forecast performance could be your key to opening up business potential. IT gives you the power to grow your company."
Other findings from the survey revealed that 74 per cent of companies questioned felt technology improved efficiency, while 62 per cent and 45 per cent said it improved communication and increased sales respectively.
Reducing costs was the least popular response (38 per cent) and only seven per cent felt that IT offered them no benefits whatsoever.
"If a company needs specific support we will put them in touch with a specialist business adviser. They can then tap into the West Midlands Supplier Register and make the most of a 600-strong list of quality assured advisers - in essence we want to unlock the benefits of IT," said Lyn.
Business Link West Midlands is expected to help over 70,000 businesses and individuals thinking of starting a company with information, with a further 16,000 receiving intensive support by 2010.
This level of support is expected to generate a £400 million improvement to the economic performance of the West Midlands. For further information, please contact 0845 113 1234 or visit www.businesslinkwm.co.uk/tapintoit.