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SMEs' digital maturity an advantage over larger firms

Over four-fifths (82 per cent) of small businesses feel their ability to use technology to optimise processes efficiently gives them a distinct advantage over larger organisations.

That’s according to new research from Coleman Parkes which found that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of SMEs prioritise technology leadership, with 71 per cent insistent they already have a clear vision in place.

The survey suggests smaller firms reach digital maturity considerably quicker than their larger counterparts.

Most large firms believe it will take five years to fully utilise their high-tech capabilities, while more than a quarter of small firms believe they can do so within one to two years.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of the UK division of technology firm, Ricoh, said: “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 small businesses surveyed believe digital maturity will add real value to their operations.

This includes access to information and improved business processes (79 per cent), less time required to complete tasks (74 per cent), a competitive edge in their respective markets (68 per cent), enhanced company reputation (67 per cent), a more driven and focused workforce (59 per cent) and more successful talent acquisition (54 per cent).

Resourcing technology-led initiatives will be the biggest hurdle for small businesses to overcome, with 50 per cent admitting it is an issue.

Smaller workforces make it difficult for senior employees to drive forward digital transformation projects and Mr Keoghan suggests SMEs should not be afraid to get external help to achieve their targets.

“Despite their agility, small companies lack the resources available to their larger counterparts to drive associated cultural changes,” added Keoghan.

“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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