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Innovation Drives Small Businesses Ahead of the Curve

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How SMEs are driving innovation and standing out from the crowd.

Our previous blog looked at the impact of innovation trends on SMEs. In this post, we explore how innovation helps SMEs stand out in a globally competitive market. With large and small companies chasing the same business around the world, how do SMEs get noticed above their larger rivals? In an Oxford Economic study, SMEs: Equipped to Compete, 59% of companies surveyed said they are more innovative than their competitors are.

Oxford Economics highlights Avigilon Corporation, a Canadian video surveillance system provider. Avigilon provides an end-to-end digital video surveillance solution that differentiated it from the field of analog competitors. The company designs its surveillance cameras around a common structural foundation so it meets the needs of various markets and industries. Plus, its open solution enables the firm to easily partner with competitors to ensure that its cameras work with their software and vice versa. In the struggle to differentiate, Avigilon has realized that rivals can become an asset too.

Avigilon has embraced the cloud, mobile, and social media to support its growing sales team, broaden its product portfolio, and increase brand awareness. In the white paper, Innovation and Differentiation, Ian Povey, director of product management and product marketing says, “The social aspect of our branding has really taken off in the last 12 months. We’re able to communicate new products, create a community, engage with our customers and end users through social platforms, and educate them on what we’re doing and what products we have to solve their problems.”

In the improved customer service stakes, social media ranks top at 31%. To improve a product or service, business analytics is SMEs’ first choice at 26%. Once the reserve of large firms, business management software (BMS) has become democratized. Together with mobile and cloud solutions, BMS helps SMEs reach their customers as easily as companies with a global footprint.

Innovation is proving critical for SMEs in strengthening customer relationships. Global markets and consumer demands are pushing the need for new ideas – though affordable technology is leveling the playing field for SMEs and large firms. In fact 56% of SMEs feel that they are more nimble than their competitors – whatever their size. 

Despite this bold talk, the Oxford Economics study found that nearly one-third of SMEs find it difficult to find the right mix of technology investments. The research indicated that 43% struggle to get employees to embrace social technologies and 40% are concerned they don’t have the resources to commit to a viable social media strategy. And when it comes to ROI, 35% are unsure how to calculate it. BMS has been democratized, though over half of SMEs surveyed still struggle with data accuracy and quality, and more than one-third have difficulties with data collection.

So the tools are there, but not all SMEs know how to use them. For firms such as Avigilon, the compass point is the customer. As Povey says, “Matching our customer’s needs with product quality and product functionality is sort of core to what we do.”

Want to learn more about powering ahead with innovation? Click here to access the Oxford Economics think piece.


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