Agile working

Understanding the challenges and opportunities for SME growth

A recent study identified that data security and remote working remain among the main business challenges for businesses in the UK.

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With the planned removal of all UK COVID restrictions being imminent, the time really has come for all businesses to look long and hard at how they will evolve and grow with their full freedoms restored.

For large organisations this will be part of ongoing planning, but for the 5.6 million small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up 99.9% of the business population in the UK, this may require a fresh perspective on business planning and operations.

Although Konica Minolta is a large multi-national company, most of our customers fall into the SME category, so we are highly focussed on what makes this sector tick. To fully embrace the opportunities, it is essential to understand the current situation, so Konica Minolta recently commissioned an extensive survey from expert business analyst Keypoint Intelligence on the current state of Digital Transformation across the SME sector.

The results are taken from a good cross-section of SME organisations (including IT, Financial, Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare and Telecoms/Energy/Utilities etc) and provide a fascinating insight into the state of UK SMEs. The results also provide an essential guide as to where improvements need to be made to fully grasp the opportunities available.

Top business challenges

One of the key questions asked of responders was to name the top business challenges facing their organisation and two shared the top spot with equal votes – ‘Data Security’ (e.g., protection against hacks), and ‘Remote Working’. Data Security is a perennial issue for most businesses, but it is undoubtedly closely linked to Remote Working in this instance.

This result clearly shows that despite the best part of two years’ worth of Remote Working experience, it continues to be a primary concern for SMEs. Undoubtedly Data Security is a big part of this, with justified concerns over ensuring information is secure wherever the employee is working. Tellingly, the second and third-placed concerns are ‘Data Protection (such as GDPR)’ and ‘Integrating Secure Document Services’, highlighting the general concern over the use of data across the expanded scope and locations of business operations.

Top IT challenges

Moving to the top IT challenges, the most common according to the survey responders is ‘Keeping Up to Date with New Technologies’, closely followed by ‘Time Constraints/Project Deadlines’ and ‘Lack of Connectivity Between Technologies’ in joint second position.

Concerns over keeping abreast of new technology and an apparent lack of connectivity between systems both suggest that SMEs continue to struggle with adopting new ways of working and delivering the services required to support this. This is reflected in a further question which drilled down into the more specific IT challenges which clearly highlighted ‘Remote Working (In terms of infrastructure / IT devices)’ as the most prevalent.

Embracing Digital Transformation

Along with identifying the key challenges for SMEs as the UK fully relaxes COVID restrictions, Keypoint Intelligence also asked the responder companies about their journey towards Digital Transformation – the adoption of digital technology to replace manual processes to improve efficiency, value, and innovation. Almost 85% advised it is a top or moderate priority for their organisation.

Clearly whilst many SMEs are still worried about modernizing their systems to cope with changing business and market demands, the majority know that embracing digital systems to automate and streamline the way their business works is key to ensuring their survival and competitive edge in the market.

Any business can benefit from Digital Transformation, you don’t have to be a big multi-national with huge reserves or an IT expert to make incremental improvements to your processes or IT systems. These ensure your flexibility in meeting customer demand or continuing to operate when the unexpected happens (the pandemic being the perfect example of this!)

Whilst our new survey highlights the anxieties that many SMEs have about evolving their business tools and processes to meet the challenges ahead, it also demonstrates the resilience and adaptability of the small and medium-sized organisations that are the lifeblood of the UK economy. As an SME leader it should also put your mind at rest that you are not alone in worrying about the next steps – achieving Digital Transformation and securing its long-term benefits is all about asking the right questions and getting the right support from the right expert partner.

Help with your Digital Transformation

At Konica Minolta we provide a whole raft of services and support to help any size of business to reach its full potential at an affordable budget. This starts with our completely free (and no obligation) DX3600 Assessment - – which gives an unbiased but accurate review of your business’ current stage of Digital transformation. We can then give you tailored recommendations on the best way to advance that suits your business objectives and fully supports your team.

We also offer a huge array of business and IT services to help your business evolve whilst being able to concentrate on its core objectives, including Whatever help your business needs, our friendly team of experts is only a mouse-click or phone call away.
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