Revealing new report on SME opinion
SMEs see technology as threat not opportunity
Technological disruption is seen as a negative by SMEs
SME owners regard technology as more of a threat than an opportunity for their businesses, according to revealing new research.
More than a third of SMEs (34%) believe that technological disruption poses a threat while just one in five (22%) see it creating opportunities.
The startling findings have prompted a warning from those behind the research that SMEs risk losing competitiveness unless they put more focus on technology that will enhance their business.
Instead, the research shows SMEs are more focused on defending their existing business through cybersecurity (52%) and data protection (50%).
Improving efficiency and competitive differentiation is receiving less focus, with only 34% of SMEs regarding digital marketing as a top priority, and even fewer businesses investing in cloud infrastructure (25%), automation (15%) and data analytics (16%).
These insights come at a time when IT budgets are increasing. More than four times as many SMEs with IT budgets for this financial year expect to increase them next year, as opposed to those who believe their budget will shrink (29% vs 7%).
The research also reveals:
– For SMEs that expect their productivity to grow in the next two years, technology is the most cited driver (33%), followed by skill levels (30%) and key personnel (26%)
– Of SMEs operating in industries experiencing technological disruption, 26% believe this will increase in the next year, against 5% that believe it will decrease
– Finance and accounting (47%), medical and health services (47%) and manufacturing (38%) are the sectors most likely to see technological disruption as a threat to their business
– SMEs in London (39%), Scotland (36%) and the East of England (34%) see technological disruption as a threat to their business
– IT and software development/technology are the third largest areas where SMEs lack expertise (17%), behind marketing (26%) and business planning (19%)
Ed Lascelles, partner at Albion Capital which conducted the research, says: “We are in the midst of unprecedented technological change and agile, digitally native SMEs are responsible for much of the current innovation transforming business.
“While early stage technology firms have made big leaps forward with offerings providing advanced, data-driven insights, our research shows SMEs from across a broader range of sectors may be struggling to access these tools.
“It is not surprising, given the challenges posed by disruption and the pervasive nature of cyber threats, that SMEs are prioritising their IT defences.
“But the prevalence of big data machine learning solutions will dramatically increase and SMEs must ensure they are equipped with the latest technology to remain competitive in the data driven economy.
“As revenue generating technologies develop and become more affordable, SMEs must embrace the opportunities on offer.”