Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

City Is Ripe for Digital Revolution - Google MD

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

City Is Ripe for Digital Revolution - Google MD

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT GIBSON Business writer robert.gibson@ncjmedia.co.uk @JournalGibson

GOOGLE'S UK managing director has used a visit to Newcastle to encourage small businesses in the North East to take the plunge into the digital world.

Eileen Naughton, the tech giant's managing director for the UK and Ireland, was visiting Newcastle City Library to unveil Digital Garage, which will see experts offering oneto-one mentoring as well as digital masterclasses five days a week until the beginning of July.

Ms Naughton said research had shown more than 88% of those who had received help through the programme in other cities had changed the way they ran or promoted their business online, while 68% had seen positive results, such as increased sales, bookings, web traffic and social media engagement.

The Digital Garage initiative is part of a host of skills training activities being run in the UK by the search engine giant, which aims to help 250,000 people by the end of 2016.

It comes as the company seeks to develop a greater presence in and connection with the North of England, as the region's tech scene continues to thrive.

The motivation behind the scheme comes from research that shows that while more than 90% of jobs will require digital literacy in the near future, employers still find it hard to find staff with the right skills. Many SMEs are yet to embrace the digital world as an intrinsic part of their business.

Ms Naughton said: "It's estimated that 70% of small businesses struggle to make sense of the web and capture its power to drive their business.

"Basically, they lack the fundamental skills they need and Google wants to help change that."

The UK, she added, was a "path-finder market", with particular strengths in areas such as digital marketing and e-commerce.

Newcastle, Ms Naughton said, had a rich history when it came to technology, from George Stephenson to the creation of business software giant Sage to the National Institute of Smart Data.

At this "transformative moment in history", she added, businesses here were well placed to break into much wider markets through harnessing the power of digital. …

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