The study shows small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) who are aiming to increase technology spend in the coming year have a more positive economic outlook than their peers

A new study into SMEs by BT has demonstrated an interesting correlation between technological nous and economic optimism. 

The survey asked a range of questions to 1,000 SMEs (defined in this case as being companies with fewer than 100 employees), revealing a mixed bag of positivity and foreboding regarding the coming year. While 57% of businesses reported a positive economic outlook for the coming year, almost 30% expected revenue and profit to decrease in the same time period.

One third of SMEs are reportedly looking to up their technology investment in the next year and it is notable that it is this group that reported the most positive outlook of all regarding the economy and their business performance.

On the other hand, 68% of those surveyed said they did not expect to increase investment technology in 2020, with even fewer (81%) intending to increase their IT/telecoms expenditure. Reasons cited for this lack of investment include increased costs (52%), lack of internal awareness and expertise (38%), and limited time and resources (25%).

Similarly, the potential of 5G, it seems, is not fully appreciated. Of those surveyed, 60% of SMEs said they were likely to consider 5G for their business, but only 40% reported being aware of the impact this technology could have on their operations. 

“There is a clear indication that SMEs that are able to harness the potential of technology feel a greater sense of business confidence,” said Chris Sims, MD, SME, for BT’s Enterprise business. “But whilst a large proportion of business operators recognise the importance of connectivity and the need to digitise, they are being held back by a lack of awareness around the benefits of this new tech, which is costing the UK an estimated £63 billion a year.” 

Despite the perceived hype around 5G in the telecoms industry, it is clear that UK SMEs still have a limited understanding of its transformative potential, as well as an understanding of digital technology in general. Finding an efficient way to close this ‘digital talent gap’ will be at the heart of SMEs’ survivability in the coming decade.

“In this digital era, the fact is that every business, big or small, needs to think and act like a technology business to succeed,” concluded Sims.


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