Having completed research in the use of cloud technology by SMEs, smart business dashboard provider 9 Spokes has concluded that the majority of UK SMEs are missing out on the potentially huge benefits of cloud-technology due to lack of time and understanding of how these can be accessed.
The use of cloud technology has become increasingly mainstream as individuals and businesses adapt to an environment in which having access to information and services 24/7, on a computer, phone or tablet is normal. Convenience, efficiency and data protection are just some of the immediate benefits. Large businesses have started to adapt to cloud services and individual use has soared as people use the cloud to store emails and photographs, communicate globally and access international entertainment features.
With over 5.4 million SMEs in the UK, 99% of all UK businesses are SMEs, employing 60% of the workforce and generating over £1.8 trillion in turnover. And yet, just four in ten small businesses are still trading after five years. The need for services that support their longevity is clear.
9 Spokes research, designed to examine whether UK SMEs are using cloud technology and if not, what barriers exist, has shown significant perceived obstacles. The research found that a large proportion of UK SMEs (68%) are interested in using cloud-based apps and technology and are well aware of the benefits of running their business in the cloud. However, 51% of them declare they are too busy with too many other responsibilities (research says a single business owner is juggling an average number of 8 different responsibilities) to research and asses new apps to best meet their business needs.
“The irony of this is startling,” says Andy Birch, VP EMEA at 9 Spokes. “Both our research and our experience with our customers shows that those who do use cloud-based technology see significant benefits and that once they start, they continue to use these services in the long-term. It’s clear that while time is a huge problem, for those SMEs who can take the time to research and implement such solutions, the knock-on benefits are enormous.”
Customer / employment management and accounting / finance apps are some of the most actively used currently by SMEs (80% and 77% respectively), with low churn of these services and the majority of SMEs agreeing these solutions are quite or very important to their business.
9 Spokes believes its approach to curating and reviewing leading apps across business functions is central to its appeal for SMEs. Says Mr Birch, “We know that appropriate business-specific apps can have a significant and measurable impact on SMEs’ business – increasing efficiency and productivity and supporting the process of making important decisions. Our goal is to overcome time management barriers by providing a selection of curated apps that will help small businesses narrow their search for the specific tool they need. That way, they can dedicate their time to what matters the most – growing their business”.
With time for research and assessment limited, SMEs also struggle to implement new technology because of concerns such as compatibility (77%), expense (76%) and poor usability (76%). Without time or knowledge to engage further with these apps, these concerns act as significant barriers.
Says Mr Birch, “This is unfortunate as many of the best apps have invested heavily in providing user-friendly, light touch solutions for SMEs that are scalable and flexible in terms of what they offer, as well as their fee structure.”
While many SMEs (71%) turn to advisors to help them navigate these challenges, it’s clear that easily usable, well-priced apps will have an advantage when engaging with SMEs. Importantly, over half (54%) of SME decision makers say that personal experiences influence their choice of business software or apps. As a result, solutions that gain the most SME users are those that tend to have some overlap with personal use such as Facebook, Paypal, Twitter, Google and Instagram.
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