A report from market insight providers SMB Group and sponsored by Adobe outlines three key technology trends for small to medium-sized businesses in 2016.
The study defines SMEs as having between one and 1,000 employees, and summarises the three trends as follows:
- SMEs that make a performance connection between business and technology outpace their counterparts.
- Mobile technology is a greater part of the ‘IT real estate’ for SMEs.
- Security is the elephant in the room for SME technology.
In general, the study found that three in ten SMEs are ‘progressive’ in terms of embracing technology as a means to boost their business performance.
This substantial minority perform better than their peers – investing 29% more into technology than their counterparts, adopting emerging technologies like cloud, integration and analytics, and are 18% more likely to forecast increased revenues.
In terms of mobile IT, 65% of medium-sized businesses and 55% of small businesses say mobile solutions are “critical” to their productivity. However, use of mobile is much more widespread than those figures suggest, with 90% of all SMEs using mobile contact management, calendars and email on a regular basis. With the internet increasingly moving towards being mobile-friendly – particularly on Google, where responsive web designs now achieve better search rankings – it is no surprise that more SMEs are publishing mobile-friendly websites too.
These are supported by mobile apps in many cases, as companies find new ways to reach out to their potential customers. But the report adds that businesses need to invest more to protect their mobile IT assets, as mobile management often lags behind the overall adoption rates of apps and devices themselves.
This leads into the third part of the report, a warning on outdated security that in many SMEs has hardly progressed since the 1990s. Data now has more places to reside, whether on a physical hard drive, an external or portable storage device, a smartphone or tablet, or online on an internet server or cloud storage platform. All of these add to the potential for data to be lost, leaked or stolen, either deliberately or by accident, and these security risks must be addressed to fully protect SMEs against such risk. Security ranks highly for SMEs, but is not the highest issue on average – instead, it comes in at second for the typical small to medium-sized business.
The report recommends risk-based and rule-based security, rather than point solutions, to create a holistic end-to- end approach to network security and data storage. Commenting on the three trends, the report states: “Increasingly, SMEs view technology as a critical part of their overall business strategy, and they are using it to empower employees with new, more effective ways to work, gain market and competitive advantages, and help improve business results. Although technology certainly isn’t the only priority for SMB decision-makers, those that underestimate its importance do so at their own peril.”