North West businesses urged to get online

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Internet News

North West businesses to thrive

Matt Brittin, managing director of Google UK, has told North West Business Insider that local companies are set to benefit from an influx of investment when MediaCity UK opens its doors next year. However, he also said that the digital revolution is leaving many companies behind, cautioning that "consumer behaviour is changing and companies will miss out if they chose to ignore it".

Although two-thirds of the UK population has access to the internet, Brittin estimates that around 1.5 million UK companies don't have an online presence; no website, no marketing, no e-commerce. The North West in particular will need to develop rapidly to adjust to its new status as a hub of media and innovation, but Brittin also praised the region:

"Manchester and the North West should be very proud of what it is doing online. There's a really good and vibrant community of agencies and digital specialists that help businesses."

Getting British Businesses Online

Matt Brittin is currently promoting the Getting British Businesses Online (GBBO) project, a collaboration between Google UK, PayPal, E-skills UK, BT and Enterprise UK. This initiative aims to help small businesses get online, by offering a free domain name and IT training, with people being taught how to build the site and drive traffic.

Over 90,000 business have already taken advantage of the opportunity, 12,000 of which are in the North West. It is claimed that it takes just 20 minutes to set up a free website on GBBO, including a business email address and integrated PayPal to enable e-commerce. Of course, more businesses online will always be a bonus to Google, but the project is free and does not involve a contract or any obligation to take out paid search contracts.

Update: Also announced today was the launch of Business Week, a weekly M.E.N publication for North West businesses and professionals. This week's cover star is Matt Brittin.