Small businesses see tech as key to their advantage over large firms

Four fifths of small companies believe their ability to optimise processes quickly gives them a distinct advantage over large firms when implementing technology-led initiatives.

The research from Coleman Parkes finds that 72 per cent of small businesses prioritise technology leadership and a similar number (71 per cent) have a clear vision in place.

Some 82 per cent of businesses feel that advancing their technologies gives them the ability to compete effectively with large firms in their sector.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of the UK arm of technology company Ricoh says, ‘Small businesses are major employers in the UK and account for 47 per cent of private sector employment. They are also responsible for more than 33 per cent of turnover, so gaining a more precise understanding of what this sector’s technology needs are, and how its leaders plan to move their companies forward, is key.’

The majority of the survey respondents (69 per cent) expect to see an increase in profits from digital transformation.

While most large companies believe that it will take five years to achieve digital maturity, more than a quarter of small firms think that this will happen within one to two years.

More than 60 per cent of small businesses see digital maturity as a golden opportunity to improve business processes and growth.

According to the small businesses surveyed, digital maturity will add value to their operations. They expect easier access to information and improved business processes (79 per cent), less time required to complete tasks (74 per cent), stronger competitive edge (68 per cent), enhanced company reputation (67 per cent), a more motivated and empowered workforce (59 per cent), and better talent acquisition (54 per cent).

Despite the advantages their agility brings, small businesses are more likely to struggle to resource technology-led initiatives, with 50 per cent saying this will be an issue for them.

Small companies are less likely to be able to spare senior employees to drive forward digital transformation projects with just over half confident that they can free up this resource.

In addition, educating all the business functions of the benefits will pose a challenge for 46 per cent of small businesses; changing the ways in which employees work will affect 48 per cent; and aligning technology and ways of working will be a difficulty for 45 per cent of companies surveyed.

Keoghan adds, ‘Despite their agility, small companies lack the resources available to their larger counterparts to drive associated cultural changes. Making the investment in working with external partners at the outset will ensure they implement new technologies effectively and help them stay competitive and profitable in the long run.’

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John Bromley

John Bromley is Head of Digital Media at Vitesse Media plc.

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