Technology is the cornerstone of the modern world and, indeed, modern marketing, but most SMEs are not taking full advantage of the space.
A report from BetheBusiness noted: "There is low tech penetration (16-20% vs 25% on avg.) in the use cases where SMEs see the most opportunity for improvement."
The background is that while we often hear the UK economy has been somewhat stagnant for a decade, it ties in with a wholesale lack of technology adoption, despite plenty of innovation. We saw technology adoption leap forward under the guise of 'necessity is the mother of invention’, during the pandemic, as more companies realised a change in the working process was necessary to keep operating, and it necessitated more tech adoption. While many of those measures have remained in situ with things like hybrid working, reports show that the pace of adoption and evolution has once again slumped. There’s a bottleneck between high-end innovation and what real businesses do.
The importance of overcoming tech barriers for SMEs
SMEs make up 99.9% of the 5.7 million companies operating in the UK, accounting for at least 99.5% of businesses in every main industry sector in the UK, employing more people in the UK than those listed on the London Stock Exchange.
So, it’s necessary for individual businesses in a competitive space to maximise the opportunities technology offers. However, it’s also in the interest of the economy as a whole to give SMEs every advantage available to them.
Benefits of tech adoption in SMEs
The benefits of technology are wide-reaching for every department within an organisation. To some extent, what you do and the industry that you’re in impacts which technologies will benefit you and to what extent. However, as a brief overview, some of the primary benefits of tech adoption in SMEs include:
- It may help SMEs when trying to secure funding
- Technology can improve a company’s environmental impact
- Tech can improve the team’s work/life balance
- Technology can improve task efficiency through automation
- Make businesses more agile
- Save money
- Improve data security
- Technology can improve both customer and employee experience
- Technology can provide increased revenue streams
- Technology can improve data analysis for more informed marketing and sales strategies
Barriers to tech adoption in SMEs
If SMEs are not adopting tech and using its ability to drive businesses forwards, then we have to look at why. Surveys indicate that 85% of SMEs recognise the importance of technology to the success of their businesses, but that isn’t translating into adoption rates.
According to BetheBusiness, the barriers to using more tech solutions were not what one might expect - data protection, for example (which are more prevalent concern in developing economies like India, but dissatisfaction with the solutions available against critical criteria, the priorities for which were:
- Simple to use
- A user-friendly interface
- Ability to fit with needs
They said: “This combination of high importance and dissatisfaction could be driving the high adoption rates of B2C solutions amongst SMEs, which they cite as easier to implement and more user friendly."
That said, other concerns in recent years have included:
- Not having time to research their options and implement team training because they’re busy getting everyday jobs done
- Many aren’t sure where to start
- A lack of budget is a frequently cited reason
- Security is still a factor
- The need for staff training with associated time and cost
How SMEs can adopt tech successfully and strategically
So, where does that leave things? As the Government seeks to support cutting-edge R&D investment in innovative sectors, SMEs can look forward to some support on the technology front that will help boost business productivity and growth.
However, these barriers to entry speak to pragmatic challenges for businesses of all sizes in all areas of investment. Ultimately choosing, when, where and how to adopt new tools and processes, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with product overload. Therefore, any investment has to be considered strategically, including your martech stack, to enable the best ROI and incorporate it into your marketing strategy. This is one of the key areas in which our Fractional CMO services support businesses. Taking a bottom-line-driven approach, we help businesses to decide on the best areas of adoption for them. As a result, we only recommend investments when there is a clear cost/benefit, for example, where human intervention no longer makes sense etc.
Our skills lie in bringing leadership, insights and processes (our playbook) to make everyday actions more effective and establish an approach targeted at future success. We are complete, tried and tested service with a singular goal - to help businesses go to the next level.
Regarding technology implementation, that means looking at what your business does, how it’s doing and where it wants to go. We use both experience and detailed analysis to decide what will work for you rather than how you can work with technology. We also know that evolution is a process, and we help you through that, whether it’s exploring how to roll out team training or when to invest in new capabilities. Our approach is based on three things:
- Working closely with the existing teams and capabilities
- Looking at where your business wants to grow
- Using a tried and tested methodology for delivering revenue growth and return on marketing investment
Want to work with business experts that deliver a return on the marketing investment to grow your business?