Our previous two blogs covered some of the reasons SMEs need to innovate. In this article, we share what SMEs have to say about the five key technologies that are helping them to deliver their innovation plans.
Twenty years ago, no one could have predicted how critical technology would become to running a business. As highlighted in a recent Oxford Economics study, SMEs: Equipped to Compete, the future is technology driven and innovation is now a strategic priority for SMEs. Over half of the SMEs in the study state that driving innovation, cost reductions, and efficiencies are the most immediate and important goals.
Based on 2,100 respondents, the research spotlights what SMEs think are the most important innovation and growth initiatives. It breaks down the results to reveal key differences between SMEs in general and their most profitable peers. The initiatives helping SMEs grow are: driving innovation, cost reduction, and efficiencies (all 50.5%/most profitable SMEs 54.2%); expanding product and service offerings (all 48.8%/most profitable SMEs 51%); strengthening customer relationships (all 39%/most profitable SMEs 48%), global expansion (all 34.2%/most profitable SMEs 40.2%); penetrating new markets (all 32.5%/most profitable SMEs 40.4%); domestic expansion (all 28.9%/most profitable SMEs 33.3%).
What are the key technologies enabling SMEs to achieve these goals?
The leading driver of competitive advantage and customer service improvement, enterprise mobility also benefits product and service development, supply chain, innovation initiatives, and cost cutting. In research, 60% of SMEs say it’s transforming their business. For 25%, it’s the top benefit for improving customer service while 23% believe it’s the most important benefit for improved product or service development.
Business Management Software (BMS)
An investment in BMS can support long-term growth in a global marketplace. The main benefits that BMS offers to SMEs are cost efficiencies and improved product and service development. Oxford Economics showed that 20% of the study participants believe BMS will bring better customer service while 25% think it will help improve product or service development.
Understanding how your business is performing is the starting point for change. Business analytics is helping SMEs drive cost efficiencies (27%) and improve product and service development (26%). However, SMEs continue to face challenges related to inaccurate and unreliable information and data collection (37%).
SMEs identify better customer service (31%) and improved product and service development (25%) as key benefits of using social media. Given the low ranking innovation gets on the benefits list (12%), SMEs may be missing an opportunity.
Barriers to investing in cloud computing include security (38%), lack of understanding of the benefits (35%), skills gaps (34%), and unclear ROI (31%). These figures help explain why SMEs are relatively slow to invest in cloud computing.
The common thread to all these technologies is collaboration and communication. As SMEs focus on these capabilities, they will start to embed a culture of innovation, and adapting to change will become instinctive. With 34% of SMEs surveyed believing a culture of innovation is a top priority, SMEs understand the choice is clear – cultivate it or lose out.
Access the Oxford Economic research study here.
What innovations and technologies are driving your business forward?