In a recent report of 1000 UK SMEs, 1 in 5 cited technology as their main concern for 2020 and overall it was the second biggest issue that was highlighted in the survey overall. A lack of knowledge and resource when it comes to technology within SMEs results in serious knock-on effects including productivity, cybersecurity, compliance and marketing. Furthermore, the world of business is changing in more ways than ever before and businesses who don’t ride this wave and implement the correct technology to keep up with these changes, will not only fall behind their competitors, but will run into difficulty in actually running their business. As we often say in our articles, knowledge is power.
The more you know about technology challenges that face UK SMEs, the better you can avoid them! Without further ado, let’s jump into the top 5 technology challenges that are facing UK SMEs and how to beat them!
A dedicated IT team is ideal when it comes to the day to day running of your IT solutions, but sadly it isn’t possible for all businesses, particularly SMEs who don’t have the budget for in-house IT support. Many smaller businesses may rely on support from a small team of IT engineers or even just someone within their existing team that has some IT experience, but in this day and age it’s no longer sufficient. It can be difficult to keep systems up to date and when the dreaded downtime raises its ugly head, you can be waiting around for support. Extended downtime means disruption to your service and possible loss of business. Furthermore, with the introduction of hybrid working and more businesses digitalising their processes, dedicated IT support is not only a useful thing to have – it is VITAL.
You may be thinking, this is all well and good, but what if I don’t have the budget to employ an in-house IT team? Don’t worry, there is a way! Outsourcing your IT to a dedicated provider, is a cost-effective and easy solution that allows you to have access to a specialist team without the cost of employing an in-house IT department. You can rely on a team of experts to keep your IT running, stay on top of issues and prevent downtime, whilst not stretching your budget too far.
Budgeting is important no matter the size of your business, but it is especially crucial for SME’s. Naturally, it is a common assumption that improving your business technology is going to be expensive. This assumption can cause SMEs to rely on outdated systems and hardware that no longer serves them, in order to save money. However, in time, this could do the opposite. Not investing in up-to-date technology can slow down processes, disrupt your business and impact the service you provide, which can cost you dearly, both in time and money.
Compared to bigger businesses, who have specific budgets for IT, in order to invest in upgrades and new technology, as and when required, not all SMEs have this advantage and technology purchases are restrained to tight budgets in order to retain margins. When it comes to beating this challenge, it’s a case of assessing whether your current technology is actually meeting your needs. Improving your IT doesn’t have to be as expensive as you may think! Transferring your business and its processes to the cloud can avoid a lot of costs that you would normally have to fork out for when purchasing a server and its necessary upgrades, maintenance and backup features. When switching to the cloud, you have flexibility, scalability, data storage and (in most cases) maintenance and security features all wrapped up in one monthly contract. No more juggling multiple contracts for different solutions, no expensive extra fees when it comes to changes and adaptations as your business grows and less budget headaches.
Statistics collated by the Office of National Statistics claimed that 85% of UK workers want their employer to implement hybrid working. However, issues with technology have caused uncertainty among many UK businesses due to the impact it can have on productivity and collaboration. Ultimately, these issues boil down to inexperience with technology and a lack of investment in the correct tools. A research report from Gartner found that taking shortcuts during their shift to hybrid working, hampered its success. Many businesses encountered issues due to trying to ‘virtualise’ all of their normal working practices, which just isn’t practical.
This is a square-peg-round-hole way of working, i.e. trying to mould unsuitable technology and on-premises working processes to fit hybrid working. Instead, businesses need to analyse how their teams work in order to create new policies that seamlessly move their processes to working at home and implementing the correct technology that fits these policies. Have a morning briefing meeting every day? Move it to a video call, but ensure that everything that your team needs to know for the day is included, to save on excessive meetings that distract your team. Utilise communication platforms that include a range of communication options, so your team can work in a way that is best for them. When it comes to monitoring your team, investing in an effective productivity software that allows your team to track their time, so team leaders can see their work without workers feeling like they have to be ‘online’ all of the time.
Did you know that 55% of ransomware attacks take place against organisations with fewer than 100 employees? Scammer techniques are growing ever-more sophisticated, so staying on top of your security is more important than ever, especially for an SME where the effects can be threatening to the survival of your business. Understandably, investing in security measures may be a worry for SMEs due to the cost – staying secure isn’t particularly cheap! However, when weighing up the cost of the investment in effective security measures to the cost of a cyber-criminal gaining access to your data – investment wins. It can be overwhelming to try and find effective cybersecurity measures that both meet the needs of your business and also fit your budget. Utilising an IT provider, like Elite, who can get to know your business, its security needs and its budget and match them up with suitable solutions, means you can effectively protect your business without blowing your budget.
Growing and developing your business is an amazing thing and something that most business owners aim to do, but when it comes to your solutions supporting your growth, this can pose a challenge. Many smaller businesses start out with basic IT resource with software, hardware and solutions that get the job done. This makes sense, given the size of the business and budget limitations. However, as the business grows, they naturally outgrow their initial solutions, which can cause difficulties when it comes to trying to scale up. SMEs may then choose to invest in a range of bolt-ons and quick fixes to adapt their IT infrastructure, which can make things complicated when it comes to licencing, contracts and ensuring your solution meets your needs exactly.
Instead, sourcing solutions for your SME that are scalable to start off with, will be beneficial in the long-run. Look at the features your provider can offer with your solution. You may not need them all right away, but finding out whether you can add them on easily when you need them saves you having to purchase separate software and solutions to meet your growing needs. Also finding solutions that allow you to add and remove users, as and when you need, is incredibly useful to future-proof that solution. When features within your solution are already scalable and have optional add-ons, it also means you’re also avoiding being overloaded with lots of different software to maintain too – it’s all in one place, within one contract from one provider.
At Elite, we know how much of a challenge it can be to source the right technology solutions for SMEs. From avoiding over-stretching your budget to finding solutions that meet your needs perfectly, it can feel like a technological maze. We’re passionate about helping businesses of all sizes to grow and develop their businesses effectively. That’s why we take the time to get to know your business, its budget and its needs, so we can find the perfect solution for both now and in the future. Why not take advantage of a FREE IT Strategy Review from Elite? No purchase is necessary and you can receive in-depth insight into your solutions, how to improve them and future-proof your business technology from our expert team. When it comes to beating technological challenges that is facing your business, trust us to find the perfect solution for you!