Although it can be tempting to kit out an office with the technology available in a large corporate office, business owners should be realistic in their requirements and base their decisions on priorities as well as the size of the business and its technological needs.
Traditionally, SMEs have been slow to adopt new technologies such as tablet and cloud computing because of a lack of funds and human resources. Legacy technologies still play an important role in information technology for SMEs. These are applications and databases that have been inherited from earlier systems and serve critical business needs. Often the challenge is to keep the legacy system running while converting it to a newer and more efficient system.
Fax machines still perform a valuable function and are used daily in business – more so than smart phones at 38%.
Technological innovation is a key component to developing a successful and competitive business however many SMEs are still reluctant to embrace these changes, even if they help improve efficiency. Business use of the tablet currently stands at 1.4%, while laptop use is at 36% and smart phones at 16%.
Do you lose your competitive advantage with old technology?
Inadequate management of technology reduces business profitability. One in 10 businesses has been a victim of an IT incident in the past 12 months which resulted in business downtime.
Most businesses spend less than 10% of their IT budget on protecting their IT systems. Security should be a priority for all businesses looking to change or update their current IT systems. Software security should be bespoke and reflect your individual data risk.
British SMEs lag behind their European counterparts by showing a much weaker level of commitment to IT innovation.
Research shows 4% of UK businesses are using the cloud but do not understand what it is. SMEs often cannot afford large-scale expenditure on IT hardware which makes hosted solutions much more attractive as these can be paid for on the basis of use, and keep IT costs to a minimum.
Cloud computing – SaaS (software as a service) offers many benefits including:
– Minimal risk (per month payment)
– Opportunity to scale
– Improved mobility
– Enhance security
– Constant updating
The average age of technological equipment in British SMEs is 2.2years. Businesses should look to technological partners who can supply them with the latest digital breakthroughs to stay innovative.
Technological innovation can help SMEs simplify key areas of their business – and greatly reduce cost. The advent of video conferencing and Skype has reduced the need to travel to meetings while Key Performance Indicators (KPI) software allows owners to identify and analyse business performance data.
Social media technology should also play a key role in today’s SMEs and be central to growth plans. Although the uptake of social media among SMEs has grown rapidly over the past decade, many businesses are still employing a chaotic and unmanaged approach to this medium.
Businesses need to have a social media strategy in place to utilise the benefits that sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide. This communication medium allows business to feed content free of charge into a highly-visible public arena and encourages readers to share it with their social network. A corporate message spreads from user to user and resonates because it appears to come from a trusted third party.
Technological advances are redefining the way we develop products and services and the way in which we market them and this has a direct impact on how SMEs generate income. Currently 9% of SMEs believe technology is helping them win business which means those who have yet to realise its significance are already losing out.