The previous blogs in this series focused on the impact of technology on how SMEs are changing. In this blog, we find out what’s in it for SMEs to be early adopters of future technologies.
Recent research by Oxford Economics entitled SMEs: Equipped to Compete, indicates a prolific adoption of game-changing technologies. For SMEs, foundational functionalities, such as business management software and business analytics, are now within their reach. The study also sees mobile, social, and cloud technologies as just as crucial to the longevity and success of SMEs over the next three years.
The study indicates that more than one-third (35%) of SMEs say they are early adopters of this technology. This certainly defies the myth that the smaller the business, the slower the uptake of technology. In fact, a mere 13% say they are reluctant adopters who find it hard to quantify the benefits. The great majority feel that technologies are within reach. The only caveat is the difficulty expressed by some in determining the right mix of technology investments.
Few, if any, SMEs now feel that these technologies are too complex or expensive. Over half of respondents (52%) state that they will adopt new technologies when they see the potential for strong return on investment. Therefore, while they need convincing before investing, they can see the future advantages and immediate impact that mobile, social, and cloud technologies make – especially on their growth plans. The study indicates that mobile technology (42%) and social media (40%) will drive increased revenue over the next three years, a finding that’s relatively consistent across industries.
It is fair to say then, that SMEs have recognized the competitive advantage that these 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.
In fact, the study highlights a correlation between early adopters and an SME’s bottom line. The most profitable firms tend to be further along in the transformation process than their less-profitable peers. The findings in SMEs: Equipped to Compete show that firms that are 15% more profitable have a greater appetite for growth. They are 4% more likely to be driving innovation, cost reduction, and efficiency initiatives; over 9% more focused on customer relationships; and 6% more likely to be expanding globally.
Click here for access to the Oxford Economics research piece SMEs: Equipped to Compete.
Some barriers to using cloud computing that the research points to include security (38%), lack of understanding of the benefits of the technology (35%), lack of skills (34%), and determining ROI (31%). This broad range of concerns helps explain why the obvious benefits of cloud computing are further down the priority list for some SMEs.
While SMEs might not always be early adopters, they are showing increasing recognition that technology can generate competitive insight and advantage and, ultimately, new revenue opportunities. Those that realize the potential today will be the early adopters of tomorrow’s technologies.