Time spent online increases, although safe use concerns on the rise

08 February 2018 Consultancy.uk

Seven out of ten UK consumers are worried that the information they share via digital devices will lead to a compromise of their privacy, according to a new study. Despite this perceived risk, however, people are increasing their use of the internet, with nearly a fifth spending more than 41 hours per week online.

A new EY survey of 2,500 UK respondents has revealed that consumers are increasingly concerned about their privacy, while the technology itself is seen in an increasingly negative light. However, interest in streaming online services continues to rise, meaning that users of the internet spend longer on the global network, and offer a greater deal of personal information.

The amount of time spent online has continued to creep up, with around 19% of respondents saying that they now use the internet for more than 41 hours per week. This is an increase from 17% in 2016. Those using the internet for between 21 and 40 hours also increased, rising to 39%. In line with this, the number of respondents using the internet between 1 and 20 hours continued to fall, decreasing from 46% to 42%.

Time spent online

EY’s research also revealed that internet use has outstripped television watching, with 56% saying that they spend more time on the internet than watching TV, up from 49% in 2016. However, traditional television mediums continue to draw large audiences, with 46% saying they continue to watch normal broadcast channels.

In addition, users are growing less interested in new devices, with 29% of households agreeing that they are ‘very interested in new gadgets and tended to purchase them before everybody else’, a drop off from 34% in 2016. Increased concern around the overuse of devices  is also noted, with what is good for society and what is good for businesses seen as increasingly at odds when it comes to digital products and services.

Users are taking a more discretionary approach to internet services, with 23% of respondents saying that they only access online services when they have a specific need. Furthermore, the number of users only using a very limited number of websites has increased sharply, up from 30% in 2016 to 38% last year, as the likes of social media giants Facebook and multifaceted corporation Google become ‘one-stop-shops’ which offer a variety of different services and ways to access content. Users are also increasingly reducing their use of the internet, with 41% actively seeking time away from their smartphones and other internet-enabled devices, which increases to 50% for the 25-34 year old group.

Privacy concerns

The study also highlighted that customers increasingly see ISPs as utilities, up to 77%, while they too prefer the stability of their services over the relative speed on offer. The research also notes that users are increasingly seeing the internet as functional, rather than a source of entertainment – with 45% saying that they see the internet as very important in terms of working or running a business from home, a 4% increase on the previous year.

Privacy issues are increasingly on the radar of users, with 71% citing concern around disclosing financial and personal information online – even from so called ‘trusted’ brands. Noting an increase from 61% in 2016 and 53% in 2015. This furthers recent studies, which suggest that GDPR-related trust issues are likely to hit TV, phone and internet providers most, with the landmark privacy legislation enabling consumers to take back control of personal information that has, until now, been ruthlessly exploited by such groups.



Grant Thornton advises on deal for high-growth cloud hosting firm

08 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Grant Thornton’s North West Corporate Finance team has completed its first TMT deal of 2019. The professional services firm advised the shareholders of Hosted Desktop UK on their investment from specialist SME lender Beechbrook Capital.

Technological disruption and changing consumer behaviour have continued to affect top Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) players in recent years. The industry has seen revenues border on stagnation over the past decade, at 0.4% annual growth since 2008. While the industry is keen to develop new digital services and models to meet market challenges, they face a range of barriers – meaning the recruiting of talent specialising in innovative software and technology has become a key goal for the industry.

Amid this, Hosted Desktop UK (HDUK) provides cloud computing services to small and medium sized businesses across the UK. The firm’s cloud solutions provide businesses with IT reliability, flexibility, value for money and business continuity. As the firm bids to grow in the UK, with demand for its disruptive technologies high, HDUK has secured a key investment from specialist SME lender Beechbrook Capital.

Grant Thornton advises on deal for high-growth cloud hosting firm

The transaction was Beechbrook Capital’s maiden deal from its latest UK SME credit fund, which supports small and medium-sized businesses in the UK with EBITDA of £1 million and above. Manchester law firms Pannone Corporate (sell-side advice, led by Mark Winthorpe) and DWF LLP (buy-side advice, led by Jonathan Robinson) also advised on the deal, while Grant Thornton’s North West Corporate Finance team advised HDUK’s shareholders.

The deal represents the Grant Thornton branch’s first TMT deal of 2019, with a team comprised of Partner and Head of Corporate Finance Peter Terry, Manager Daniel Brecker and Assistant Manager Cariad Mudford advising HDUK shareholders on the investment. It is the third key deal in the TMT sector that the GT North team has advised on in the last 18 months, following the £16.5 million sale of Salford-based Sonassi to Iomart in December 2017 and NorthEdge Capital’s investment in Yorkshire company iPortalis in August 2018.

Grant Thornton’s Peter Terry said of the news, “As our domestic and working lives become ever-more technology dependent, it’s no surprise that there continues to be strong investor interest in any asset in the cloud computing, data infrastructure and connectivity space… We were pleased to work with Beechbrook Capital on the first deal in its new fund. It shows that despite the well-documented uncertainties in the economy there are still good funding options for dynamic SMEs and their management teams.”