The UK economy is heading south, and taking the British Pound with it, just as energy costs travel in the opposite direction. This is all happening as a perfect storm of Kwasi Kwarteng trying his luck and global pressures around conflict and Covid rages above smaller business owners looking for a steer on future directions. We can offer at least one.
It may seem illogical to cite technology as being key to future prosperity for the smaller business when the big guys in the sector, including Twitter and Alphabet, owners of Google, are shedding thousands of jobs. But beware of false equivalence.
Just as there are many flavours of technology, no two businesses are alike. And there are compelling and legitimate strategic reasons why Elon Musk cut a swathe through his payroll. Losing $4m a day seems a good place to start. Similarly, Google shaved $2.bn from their profit margins.
Meanwhile. Mark Zuckerburg’s virtual empire, the metaverse, is hemorrhaging his cash and the share price of parent company, Meta, is down 73%. Once again, it’s the employees who will pay for this folly with their jobs. But these are huge enterprises with intangible products. Apple, who generate more products than many of us can count, are doing rather better.
Tech in the balance
So, what’s the role of technology in … well, whatever comes next? According to this SME-specific blog, UK businesses believe tech will unlock economic growth – it just depends on what this tech is, and what it does. For example, the topline message of the research underpinning the article, commissioned by Virgin Media 02 Business, is that connective tech is a major enabler among SMEs: businesses employing between 11-249 people.
They comment that 9 in 10 (87%) leaders notice a productivity boost among the employees handed new technology. The ‘connectivity’ piece is almost a by-product of the Covid era – if it’s now behind us – where so many companies had to pivot to a mobile working model, almost overnight. It’s certainly why employees of SMEs now spend just 25% of their time in offices, with seven in ten businesses (70%) having more mobile connections compared to a year ago.
Less is more?
Suddenly, being a smaller player, with a tech-savvy, agile workforce happy to be deployed wherever they can get pick up wifi, looks a smarter bet than Zuckerburg’s vanity project. This is one of many nuggets in the full report, Medium Businesses: Fuelling the UK’s Economic Engine, which is available here. As the authors point out, SMEs could be a key plank in the latest economic rebuild. SMEs employ more than 7.5 million people and turn over almost £1.4 trillion a year.
Conversely, the survey respondents regard this driver of business growth as their biggest internal challenge. A third say their current IT set up impacts on their bottom line, and more of a barrier to success than, say, their marketing activities. Almost half (48%) say they need better IT support to realise their company’s ambitions, and a quarter (24%) of medium business are concerned about their online security.
How we can help
As an SME ourselves, Purple Crane understand how technology can help our customers not only overcome those barriers, but look forward to a better future, underpinned by bespoke software applications that help your business do more, faster, and better. We also partner with suppliers who can go the extra mile – even into the cloud – and can offer you an excellent outsourcing option if you don’t want to take on extra people yourself. And, if you spot the potential opportunity in the current economic uncertainty, then you know where to go to turn your dream into a reality.