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As my previous post stated, I have been on a tour of Wales for the last week, visiting first my parents in North Wales and my Nanna in South Wales, very near a lovely lovely town on a hill called Llandeilo, which is possibly one of the most idyllic places to live. Please don’t go live there though. That would spoil it for the rest of us!

On a recent episode of Wales Today, the BBCs local Welsh news programme, a report was shown on how Google UK is holding a seminar/fete/fair or call it what you will to showcase the internet and to help promote business website uptake and usage online. Apparently, only 50% of businesses have a website. Interesting fact. I have no facts to back up my thoughts, but then that’s why this is a blog, and not a news piece for the BBC. I wonder:

  • What percentage of a typical Welsh business’ clients’ are online?
  • What percentage of those businesses have trouble getting online in the first place? Do they all have broadband?
  • What is a typical Welsh Business’ attitude to the online world?
  • Is there a such a thing as a typical Welsh business?
  • How many bullets in a list is too many?

Do as your clients do?!

I can imagine the scene now: the furore as the local coal merchant/delivery business is no longer taking phone orders and instead has a form on their website – and causing massive confusion for the old dears who need fuel for their fires. A silly example perhaps (definitely), but many businesses make a perfectly good living with similarly ‘off-line’ people.

Getting online

A greater part of Wales is rural, with a low population. Most people (like my parents) have a slower than 200kbps connection. Trying to manage a website, uploading pictures, videos or media for a site would be nigh on impossible. Its’ not the speed per se, but the unreliability. In BBC news article, some business owner stated they had missed emails –I find THAT hard to believe – download speed isn’t really an excuse for tardy responses to emails… that’s your management practice that is!

Online attitude

Points 1 and 2 combine to mean a lot of folks aren’t really that impressed with the possibility of the web. It’s hard to use, and difficult to get on, with no clear benefit to increased sales. You can understand their malaise, and I applaud Google UKs efforts here. I would rather see Google’s resources widened to tackling rural broadband access, increasing a positive attitude to the web in general and finally (which is the bit they’ve done), concentrating on getting businesses online. All of this would increase (albeit marginally) the people using Google’s services.

Typical Welsh business? No such thing!

More a caveat than a point – there is a stark difference between the rural and (few) urban areas in Wales. The problems facing individuals and businesses in the urban areas South and North are different to the wild and sparse Mid Wales. Different approaches needed for all.

So what?

This all feels like a rant, and perhaps it is. It’s not also to say that efforts by the Welsh Assembly, Google or other bodies are ill-conceived, just that more could and should be done to get the internet and the web integrated into the Welsh way of life, and way of business.

PS…

If you’re interested in knowing more, head to the ‘Getting Welsh Business Online’ website at http://www.gbbo.co.uk/live.

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