The previous blogs in this series focused on how SMEs are embracing business transformation and how technology is a major element in these initiatives. In this blog, we’ll look more closely at the technologies SMEs are adopting – and how they are approaching innovative technologies.
Recent research by Oxford Economics entitled SMEs: Equipped to Compete, indicates a prolific adoption of game-changing technologies. More than one-third (35%) of SMEs surveyed say they are early adopters of technology, defying the myth that the smaller the business, the slower the uptake. In fact, a mere 13% say they are reluctant adopters who find it hard to quantify the benefits. “We were one of the French pioneers for digital technology,” says Francois Hisquin, CEO of French IT consultancy Octo Technology. “Agility is a key to our business.”
Foundational functionalities such as business management software and business analytics are priorities for SMEs, enabling better understanding and insight across the business. But, their interest and appetite extends beyond these established technologies to include mobile, social, and cloud. SMEs recognize the competitive advantage that new technologies can bring them. Of those that have adopted collaborative technologies, 31% of social media and 25% of mobile technology users state that they deliver dramatic improvements in customer service. SMEs are confident they can go head-to-head with bigger companies on the technology front.
Schumacher Group, a Louisiana company that provides contract emergency-room medical staff for hospitals in 26 states, has long used technology to outmaneuver larger rivals for much of its 20-year history. Now, as it needs to manage ongoing growth, it has ramped up its transformation efforts – evaluating everything from its business processes to its data practices, and moving one application after another into the cloud. Learning how to communicate in new ways is another focus for the Schumacher Group leading to the adoption of new technologies, such as an internal social platform, video conferencing, and additional tools for promoting the exchange of ideas.
But, some SMEs do express difficulty in determining the right mix of technology investments. Despite clear indications that they consider social media an important transformation tool, some of the challenges SMEs face are getting employees to embrace social media technologies and having the resources to commit to a viable social media strategy.
Yet, the numbers indicate significant investment activity over the next three years. Smaller companies are emphasizing investment in business analytics and business management software – catching up to their larger peers on these established tools. Larger companies are more focused on mobile, social media and the cloud.
When it comes to cloud technology, the largest SMEs will hit 64% on cloud adoption in three years, while the smallest will be at just 40%. Yet, given the significant benefits the cloud brings to investing and implementing business management and analytics tools, the spread between larger and smaller SMEs adopting cloud will likely narrow further – and faster.
While SMEs are prudent in their technology investments, they clearly grasp the immediate impact and the future advantages that mobile, social, and cloud technologies make – especially on their growth plans. They are showing increasing recognition that technology generates competitive insight and advantage and, ultimately, new revenue opportunities. If transformation is the new business imperative for SMEs, technology is a strategic tool to make it happen. It is the essential hallmark of success for small and midsize companies
Visit our SME Community Experts website to learn more about how SMEs are equipping themselves to compete or read the Oxford Economics paper, How Successful SMEs are Reinventing Global Business.