The perceived cost and risk involved in adopting new technologies can deter SMEs who prefer to take a less risky approach. Furthermore, with so many innovations in technology to choose from, it can be hard for a business with finite resources to decide where to direct their investment.
However, recent research conducted by Epicor proves that businesses that invest in new technology can set themselves apart from the competition.
The research explored the influences and impacts of business growth according to 2450 senior business decision-makers around the world. Of those that reported strong business growth in the last 12 months, 57 per cent prioritised IT investment.
There are five key reasons technology can help SMEs grow:
1. Technology delivers automation
In SMEs, people often fulfil multiple roles. If these team members have to spend a large proportion of their time completing manual, repetitive tasks, then that’s time they’re not spending on furthering the organisation’s core business. Automating those tasks frees up time so those employees can devote more time and headspace to activities that genuinely deliver value as opposed to the time spend merely completing administrative tasks.
2. Technology plugs the skills gap
Attracting top talent can be challenging even for large, well-known organisations with hefty staffing budgets. For SMEs that often can’t pay as much as their larger competitors, this makes it even harder to attract and retain the right people. Using technology for key business processes serves two key functions: it saves on time and resources so the business doesn’t have to hire additional people; and it attracts young workers, 41 per cent of whom want to work with the latest innovations.
3. Technology provides data
The more a business uses technology for key processes, the more data it can collect. Analysing this data can reveal patterns and trends that the business can then act on. For example, if sales data shows that customers are more likely to purchase on a certain day of the week or time of day, then the business can direct their marketing and advertising efforts accordingly. This can help increase sales and, ultimately, profits. Failing to take advantage of the volume and quality of data available in an increasingly-digitalised world will see SMEs fall behind their data-savvy competitors.
The ideal way to leverage data is through an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that collects and can help analyse data. The right ERP system can also help businesses run more efficiently and accurately.
4. Technology fuels expansion
Expansion can be challenging and expensive, especially for businesses working with complex supply chains or in multiple regions. Having a business management solution that can adapt to different circumstances is key to managing growth effectively and ensuring compliance with regional requirements.
5. Technology underpins adaptability
SMEs looking to grow need to be able to analyse trends, understand market drivers, then evolve products and services to suit. Being able to identify opportunities or lulls in the market, then order more or less stock or supplies accordingly, is important to help save money and operate more cost-effectively. Responding faster to customer demand will see organisations streak ahead of their competitors. In the lean times, holding less stock on hand will help avoid unnecessary expenses. Finding the balance depends on smart technology that can predict the decisions business leaders should make.
While technology is clearly necessary for SMEs to succeed, it’s important to choose the right system. Cloud-based ERP solutions help businesses spot trends, interpret data, facilitate collaboration, automate repetitive tasks, and more.
Scott Hays, senior vice president – product marketing, Epicor Software Corporation