It will not be news to most small and medium sized business owners that the adoption of new technologies is one of the most important drivers in growth and expansion. However, with the rapid pace of tech development, it can often be difficult to keep up, let alone make the most of new technologies. A recent study has reinforced this idea, claiming that a lack of tech skills and a reluctance to incorporate new technology into existing business models is costing 65% of SMEs time and money.
While most businesses maintain some kind of online presence – be it a website, Facebook profile or Twitter account – a large portion of SMEs have no digital skills beyond these basic applications. This is a great inhibitor of growth and will hinder businesses that could streamline operations if they incorporated new technologies or digitalised some manual processes. When surveyed, 59% of SMEs reported spending up to 10 hours a week on administration tasks, many of which could be made more simple and quicker if completed using digital software and applications. Similarly, 65% of businesses continue to use outdated Microsoft Office software, despite newer software boasting impressive improvements.
Interestingly, the reluctance to adopt new technology appears to be caused by certain attitudes prevalent both in the UK and Europe as a whole. While a lack of awareness concerning the potential benefits of social media can be blamed for many businesses not creating profiles on the variety of social networking platforms on offer, other new technologies are viewed with suspicion by businesses lacking the technical expertise required to implement them. Shockingly, the study estimated that giving SMEs two hours back each week could boost the UK economy by nearly £9 billion a year.
The survey also investigated the attitudes of those businesses that don’t utilise even the most common of digital technologies. Amongst the 36% of businesses that reported not having a website, 77% argued that they believed it wasn’t necessary due to the fact that setting one up would be expensive and time-consuming. This figure also included a large percentage of SMEs that weren’t aware of the prevalence of maintaining a digital presence. Though many SMEs understand the importance of new technology to keeping ahead of the competition, the general health of the U.K. economy does depend on greater rates of adoption in the future.
In order to keep ahead of businesses operating in lower-cost countries, SMEs need to ensure that they are integrating new technologies into their organisations and that they understand how to use them effectively.
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