The Trillion Dollar Missed Opportunity

3rd March 2020
Omnisperience, the leading provider of B2B service provider industry insights and market strategies, has identified an emerging nanobusiness opportunity for ICT firms. In our latest green paper we outline that this hidden sector of the business market is a huge opportunity for ICT firms seeking to find new sources of revenue, but argue it is currently being overlooked.

Introducing the nanobusiness

The business market is traditionally divided into large enterprise, SME and microbusiness segments; but over the last few years the digital capabilities provided by ICT companies has resulted in the emergence of a new type of small business, which Omnisperience has termed the ‘nanobusiness’.

“Omnisperience defines a nanobusiness as a business that employs less than one full time worker. It encompasses businesses that sell goods, creativity, services, labour or influence, as well as those that allow the commercial sharing of something that the person already owns.”

The Gig Economy and Sharing Economy are part of this new category, but nanobusinesses do more than just sell labour or services on digital on-demand platforms. The category also incorporates selling physical goods, creative products and even influence. It includes the grey area where work and play overlap and hobbies are monetised for financial gain.

The nanobusiness opportunity for ICT companies
The nanobusiness sector is an important one for ICT companies for two reasons:

  • nanobusinesses rely on their mobile devices as essential tools to sell their labour, goods and services, and to connect with customers. They also need a host of other ICT services to enable them to create, deliver their services and run their businesses
  • bigger businesses that want to utilise the services of nanobusinesses require communications, collaboration and cloud-based solutions to acquire and manage the skills they need, distribute work, and organise workers from anywhere in the world.

Nanobusinesses may represent the seeds of larger businesses and a growing opportunity for those catering for them, but even when they don’t grow much bigger they still represent a huge trillion dollar opportunity for ICT providers. Omnisperience believes that instead of selling technology such as 5G, ICT firms should take a more customer-centric approach and focus on what customers do with this technology, building profitable, configurable solutions that address the needs of nanobusinesses.

“The side gig is going mainstream and is a huge opportunity,” says Omnisperience Chief Analyst Teresa Cottam, author of the Green Paper ‘Nanobusinesses – A New Business Category’. “Nanobusinesses are breaking down the barriers between work and play, liberating labour and services from location, and driving new forms of flexible working that allow people to work when it suits them. They are opening up new pools of workers who previously found it hard to work in a more formal environment. Increasingly, this is not just students and parents balancing childcare, but the Grey Workforce that wants to continue working beyond traditional retirement age – albeit not necessarily full time. The nanobusiness is the future of work.”


Key facts for editors

  • The term ‘nanobusiness’ derives from the analogy with SIM cards whereby nano-SIMs are smaller than micro-SIMs. Nanobusinesses are thus smaller than microbusinesses.
  • The nanobusiness market encompasses all skill levels – from people working as delivery drivers, couriers and taxi drivers, to micro-retailers and those providing highly skilled IT services.
  • The gig and sharing economies are components of the nanobusiness market.
  • Omnisperience forecasts that nanobusinesses will generate over $1 trillion in revenues by 2025.
  • ICT firms are losing out on this opportunity because:
    • they have an old-fashioned way of segmenting the business market, which is becoming increasingly out of step with economic reality. More people are working in microbusinesses than ever before, with 96% of businesses (5.6 million) in the UK having less than 10 employees (the EU definition of a microbusiness) and with 7 million+ working in the nanobusiness sector
    • with the advent of more automation and technologies such as robotics and AI, the number of people a business employs is not a reliable way of understanding businesses’ needs – particularly when it comes to ICT
    • they are failing to address the changes in the business market and assemble solutions aimed at the different types of nanobusiness. This also makes it harder for nanobusinesses which tend to use consumer ICT packages but have hidden business needs. They are forced to adopt disparate solutions to address their needs, rather than benefitting from curated solutions from their service providers.

Blog: Is your business ready to support the rise and rise of the nanobusiness?
Graphics: Nanobusiness graphics
Download Green Paper: Nanobusiness A New Business Category

About Omnisperience
Omnisperience is an analyst and consultancy firm that specialises in the telecoms, media and technology (TMT) sector, focusing on helping B2B digital service providers deliver better services to their customers. Based in the UK, Omnisperience analysts are experts in telecommunications, data security, information management, IoT and Cloud, as well as how digital technology applies to key industry verticals such as automotive, food & beverages, hospitality, manufacturing, media, mining & minerals, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, professional services, retail and travel & transport.
For more information see

About Teresa Cottam
Teresa oversees the Omnisperience research output and is the subject matter expert for customer experience, customer service, customer satisfaction, employee experience and the future workplace. She has over 25 years’ experience in the telecoms and technology markets and is a renowned expert on SME and enterprise telecoms. Teresa also has considerable vertical market expertise which she uses to help B2B service providers understand the needs of different types of customers. Teresa previously held senior positions at Analysys Mason, Chorleywood Consulting (Informa) and Ovum. She is a judge of the GSMA Global Mobile Awards (GloMo’s) for customer experience and enterprise innovation, and for the UK Cloud awards. You can follow her on Twitter @teresacottam
She is the author of ‘Nanobusinesses: a New Business Category’.

For more quotes, information or an interview, or to request a custom written story, please email our Editorial Team
[i] Business population estimates for the UK and regions: 2019 statistical release (14 January 2020), BEIS
[ii] According to research by the University of Hertfordshire the UK’s gig economy doubled in size between 2016 and 2019. 7.5 million people in the UK have worked via a gig economy platform at some point in their working lives. In 2017 there were 280,000 registered sellers trading on Amazon UK and 200,000 professional sellers on eBay UK.