Digital thinking could boost SME growth, study suggests

Research released today suggests three-quarters of UK SMEs may be failing to embrace workplace technologies such as cloud, mobile working and BYOD, stifling their growth, productivity and employee engagement.

Image suggesting internet of things connecting workplaces and people
While IT analyst Gartner forecasts that by 2022 cloud will make up almost a third of IT spending, only a quarter of SMEs are highly prepared for it finds a study commissioned by Crown Workspace, The Missed Middle: The Impact of Unsuitable Workspace on Britain’s SMEs.The workplace consultancy, space planning and interior design, fit-out, move management, relocations, and information management, furniture recycling/procurement and project management company believes this lack of cloud innovation could impact SMEs’ business agility, security and financial efficiency.

Tech considerations for workplace relocation and HR

Crown Workspace’s findings could support considerations for companies setting up offices in new territories, and guide facilities and IT managers' thinking around relocation.The Missed Middle's insights also help to shape cross-functional conversations about the future interplay between human and digital resources as technology embeds more deeply in our workplaces.The findings link with recent studies showing a need for greater workforce HR planning and reskilling, as technology is increasingly automating routine tasks and data analysis is offering powerful insights. These trends are bringing the role of technology in every aspect of organisation life into sharp relief.
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How have SMEs adopted technology?

As well as cloud, voice technology has proliferated significantly over the past few years. However, less than one in five respondents are ready for it in the workplace, finds Crown Workspace's study of 500 SMEs.Equally, despite the ubiquity of mobile devices, only a quarter of businesses feel “very prepared” to enable proper mobile working and BYOD (bring your own device) practices. Meanwhile, other new technologies such as Li-Fi (cellular wireless networking using light) and automated heating and lighting "are creeping onto the SME agenda". 

What role does technology play in business growth?

The study also suggests that technology seems be an afterthought growth strategies, with more SMEs worrying about having better storage facilities as they grow. Over two-thirds of SME owners admit their current workplace, including its lack of technological innovation, is limiting engagement with employees and their ability to retain the best talent.Cost is the most common barrier preventing SMEs from creating the optimum workspace that features modern technology.Simon Gammell, director at Crown Workspace, says: “Modern technology has created a new set of rules for the workplace. Tech such as WiFi, remote storage and mobile are what employees expect, and that’s what SME owners should consider first when designing a workspace to ensure that their people can work and communicate effectively.“Design factors such as layout, equipment and furniture are also massively important too, but should not come at the detriment of technology.”

Getting connected

On the upside, most respondents feel that their connectivity is up to the mark, suggesting the government’s investment in national broadband connectivity over the past decade is paying dividends.However, one in five said that they still needed better broadband speed and Wi-Fi to support expansion.Hugh Prissick, project manager and owner of project management company, Storey, says: “Landlords are conscious that occupiers need faster broadband speeds and greater access to strong wireless connections, amongst other technological advances. “Future-proofing buildings is difficult, but landlords and developers are placing technology at the heart of the design of new buildings.”Head to the Technology section for more news and insight from Relocate
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