Insight

The results of the Thames Valley Business Barometer Autumn 2018 are out

Confidence remains broadly stable alongside good performance results amongst Thames Valley businesses, according to the latest Thames Valley Business Barometer report published today by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP, and disruptive-tech PR agency C8 Consulting.

What is the Thames Valley Business Barometer?

Seven years ago, BDO LLP and C8 Consulting launched a project, its aim being to provide a regular snapshot of business and economic confidence across the Thames Valley: titled The Thames Valley Business Barometer.

The ongoing collaboration between the two companies presents the results of a survey run for seven weeks covering the region’s economic confidence, growth and employment intentions, and also highlights specific emerging trends – the survey and subsequent report are published bi-annually. From Go-to-Market strategies to Brexit, and Cybersecurity trends, the barometer provides insight on topics that can affect businesses in different ways, for example, socially, politically, financially and environmentally.

This latest survey ran from 10th October to 19th November 2018. Just under 100 businesses contributed and C8 would like to thank them for their support. The Barometer report contains the results of the survey as well as in depth profiles of Cybera, Keit, Source Code Control, Reading Scientific Services and CMI in it they share their views on their own performance, the key challenges they face and how they anticipate the impact of Brexit. C8 would like to thank all parties for generously giving their time to be interviewed. Finally, we would like to thank our Thames Valley Business Barometer panel of over 35 business leaders from across the Thames Valley region for their continued support.

Key findings

Our latest report revealed that 92% of companies surveyed stated that profitability has remained the same or increased in the last six months, compared to 97% in spring 2018. This trend was also observed in regard to turnover, with 84% reporting that it had remained the same or increased, versus 90% last spring.

Thames Valley employment has also remained fairly stable: 90% of respondents said their headcount had increased or stayed the same, versus 88% in September.

Simon Brooker, Partner and Head of BDO LLP in the Thames Valley, said: “On the face of it, confidence and performance indicators have not changed significantly in the last six months, or indeed in the last twelve months. Especially if you take into account the normal seasonal variation that sees respondents appearing more upbeat in the Spring than in the Autumn.

The business performance indicators such as pipeline and turnover appear strong and seem to have held steady over the last 12 months. However, the headline figures hide a split in the responses, with those saying that their business’ performance has improved over the last six months, and those saying it has deteriorated, both rising since the Spring survey. This could indicate that the impact of the current situation is being felt differently depending on the nature of the business in question.”

Top trends

The latest Business Barometer also looked at cybersecurity trends within the region, in particular how or if cyber-attacks affected companies and the solutions they have in place.

Paula Elliott, Managing Director of C8 Consulting, comments: “The government released a report earlier this year which found that nearly half of businesses in the UK had fallen victim to cyber-attacks or security breaches in the preceding 12 months. It seemed only right that this should be our themed topic for our survey, and it was interesting to get a local level perspective on an issue that affects every one of us.”

While a majority (58%) of those surveyed hadn’t experienced a data breach in the last 12 months, just over a quarter (27%) had and 15% didn’t know. When asked about the prime cause of these breaches, half of respondents mentioned a malicious attack such as ransomware or phishing and a quarter said it resulted from human error. Others were victims of insider threat (15%) or an attack via supply chain or third party (10%).

Just under one third (29%) said that these attacks have become significantly more sophisticated in the last 12 months and less than a quarter (23%) said that they’ve become slightly more sophisticated. While no respondent said that attacks had become less sophisticated, about a fifth (21%) reported no change.

As more than half (59%) of businesses said they were worried about the company being breached going forward, this explains why about a third of businesses (32%) said that they were planning to increase their spending on cyber defence by 1-25% in the next 12 months and 12% said they would increase it by 26-50%. Surprisingly, more than a quarter (28%) stated that they didn’t know.

In terms of prevention techniques that businesses have in place, a majority (56%) mentioned technology such as antivirus and encryption and 55% mentioned education of staff. Other techniques included a dedicated Security Operations Centre (11%), outsourcing their security arrangements to a 3rd party (13%), and threat hunting and pro-active threat prevention technique (11%). Only 3% didn’t know and 1% said they were specialised in cybersecurity themselves.

Insights – access all areas

Full details of the survey results can be found in the report here with an article by Rick McElroy, Head of Security Strategy at Carbon Black, where he talks about the cybersecurity issues facing businesses today and explains why threat hunting should underpin strategic IT security. The report also includes a write up of the Barometer panel round table discussion held shortly after the survey closed on the 19th Nov 2018.

To find out more about the report or to be profiled in the next Barometer please also contact Paula Elliott, MD, C8 Consulting. The more organisations that get involved, the more easily we will be able to gauge what is happening across the region. The next Barometer survey will take place from March to May and I hope that you will take part.

For a copy of the full report please click here. If you would like a hard copy version, please email Paula Elliott on paula@c8consulting.co.uk or call her on 0118 949 7736.

Thames Valley Business
Barometer Panel Members

  • Activate Learning
  • Boyes Turner
  • BtL Communication
  • CH&Co Convatec
  • Diamond Light Source
  • Grundon
  • Hays
  • Henley Business School
  • Hewland Engineering
  • Hicks Baker
  • HR Wallingford
  • HSBC
  • Integris Financial Recruitment
  • International Brand Development Council
  • J Bennett & Sons
  • Mabey
  • MD2MD
  • Medical Supermarket
  • Morgan Lovell
  • Natwest
  • Ocean Consulting
  • Oxford Space Systems
  • Oxfordshire LEP
  • Pitmans LLP
  • RBS
  • Snaffling Pig
  • Stoke Park
  • Thames Valley Science Park
  • The Business Magazine
  • The Romans Group
  • TVCC
  • UK Property Forum
  • UTC Reading
  • Waylands

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