For many small businesses, the idea of introducing new technology into their working practices can be perceived as costly. Along with restricted budgets that may prevent them from purchasing new devices, some SMEs also don’t have the time to invest in training staff on how to use them. However, 94% of businesses recognise the advantages of embracing new technology and believe that this can present new growth opportunities – yet 25% of SMEs still don’t have a digital strategy in place, according to the Confederation of Business Industry.
So, what is holding small businesses back from going digital?
Cashflow management is one of the many problems SME’s can often face. A survey carried out by C2FO shows that 54% believe issues with cash flow to be their biggest obstacle to business growth. So, with limited funding options available, investing in new technology can sometimes seem like an unrealistic dream that is simply out of reach for many small businesses. However, this doesn’t need to be the case.
Firstly, small businesses need to move away from the idea that all tech comes with a big price tag because there are various cost effective solutions out there. For instance, using cloud-based programmes enables businesses to ditch the burden of physical paperwork and simplify the way they access and share files. By going paperless, businesses can manage their documents more effectively and efficiently, and also decrease operating costs. Based on the use of our own data capture solution, we’ve calculated that businesses can save on average £2,089 per employee, every year, by removing physical paperwork. For small businesses specifically, these savings would go a long way towards relieving some of the financial pressures they may be under.
Along with contributing to company savings, cloud-computing software also makes it considerably easier for employees to share information between themselves. Documents and files stored in the cloud can be accessed instantly from anywhere, and then shared with colleagues, making for greater levels of communication. And if a company has good communication among its staff, it’s highly likely that work will get done a lot quicker and much more effectively.
Another issue affecting many small businesses is the never-ending to-do list – there just never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, with the rise of automation technology, workers are now starting to gain some of their precious time back to focus on the more value-adding work that will help the business to grow and develop. For instance, some businesses are now investing in virtual assistants that can carry out simple tasks, such as answering calls or booking meetings with clients and colleagues. Although this tech is still in its infancy, these systems can save businesses serious amounts of time that can be spent on higher value tasks, which in turn will result in higher revenues and improved productivity.
There’s also a new, growing trend that is creeping its way into the business space – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This is where companies allow employees to bring their own devices into the workplace and use them to access corporate data. By allowing staff to use the devices they are familiar and comfortable with, this will help to reduce training time and will remove the cost of buying new tech. Not only this, it will also make for happier employees, which in turn, will boost productivity and efficiency. And when employees are more productive, this will lead to an increase in revenue and growth – and a much happier business owner.
SMEs need to recognise the significant benefits that new technology can present, such as greater cost savings, improved efficiencies and more streamlined ways of working. Taking into account that those businesses opting to get on board can expect to grow on average two to three times faster, SMEs really can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand. And if companies were to save just two hours of their time every week, this could boost the economy by almost £9bn.
With some businesses already reaping the rewards of digital transformation, those reluctant to make the change are at risk of falling behind the competition. And for the businesses who aren’t adapting to new tech, they are missing out on greater cost savings, improved efficiencies and more streamlined ways of working. In order to grow and operate effectively in the ever-changing marketplace, businesses must not let the fear of investing in new tech be their downfall.