Five technology challenges for SMEs
Across every industry, advances in technology transform the way organisations do business. Whether you are a huge multinational or a sole trader, technology today is central to our business processes. Particularly for SMEs, having the right technology for the right job can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are five of the biggest technology challenges faced by SMEs today.
A business can grow from a one-man band to a significant size in very little time, and although this is great for business, having the systems and software to support operations through this growth and into the future is essential. SMEs often start with a basic IT capability and outgrow it quickly, leaving the business with an urgent need for new software and systems. This results in quick fixes and bolt-ons being added to existing infrastructure when sometimes a clean slate is needed. As with many aspects of business, if you can get it right when you’re small then it’s easier to scale up when you grow.
Research by the Enterprise Research Centre found that the most common technologies used by small businesses are cloud computing, customer relationship management software (CRM), and e-commerce. There are, however, a multitude of different apps that can be used in business from time management software to apps that allocate bonuses to staff for good work. The challenge is having the right amount of technology to help you and your team save time and money without being overloaded with software to maintain.
A business does not need to be a large corporation with thousands of staff and clients to be an attractive target to cyber criminals. SMEs are often more attractive to hackers because they have less mature security systems and less resource to dedicate to security. This means that ensuring data is secure is vital to the SME, but knowing what to choose from a huge range of products and how much to spend can be a significant challenge to business owners.
A recent report by YouGov on behalf of Telegraph Spark and Yorkshire Bank found that the biggest barrier to adopting new technology amongst SMEs was, unsurprisingly, cost. The reality for many small and medium sized businesses is that a decision on whether to upgrade or purchase technology comes down to margins and the strength of the business case.
Knowing when to upgrade
The balance between having the most up-to-date computers and hardware and overspending on gadgets is a fine one and identifying the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’ is important when margins are at risk. If computers are slow, you are likely to see losses in other areas over time as productivity suffers, so the challenge here is ensuring you get the best out of your hardware without compromising on time.