Technology helps three in four small businesses to become more efficient
New research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance reveals that more than three quarters of small businesses across the UK (76%) have used technology in the last year to improve their business operations and become more efficient. This rises to 84% of small businesses that have expected modest growth – and 91% for those enterprises that predict significant expansion.
At a time of unprecedented disruption, Hitachi Capital’s Business Barometer study suggests small business owners have become increasingly more comfortable using technology to support company growth and give them a competitive advantage. This contrasts starkly to the eve of the pandemic, when almost a third of small businesses said their tech capabilities were holding them back (30%).
Whilst, small businesses used the lockdown era to modernise, the research suggests a north-south divide may be opening up when it comes to technology. Small companies operating from the Capital were those most likely to have enhanced their digital capabilities in the last year (86%), followed by enterprises in the South East (80%) and the South West (79%). This compares to just 64% in the North West – with business owners in Wales also lagging behind on technology updates (68%).
Hitachi Capital asked a nationally representative sample of 1,232 small business decision makers how if, at all, new technology had impacted their business in the last year. Streamlining customer service, boosting productivity as well as cutting down on costs were major areas where new technology has helped small organisations over the last year.
- Investing in new technology has helped more than two fifths of small businesses (43%) to introduce efficient home-working for staff and 38% said that they were now able to provide faster and better customer service.
- Improved tech capabilities also helped 37% of business owners to cut down travel time to-and-from meetings, to achieve greater productivity (32%) as well as providing a smarter and safer way to store and manage sensitive information (24%).
- Almost, one in four respondents (23%) said that updated tech had made the company more environmentally friendly, whereas one fifth of decision makers believed tech had reduced the amount of time spent in meetings (20%).
- Technology had also been widely used to help small businesses to better manage their cashflow and costs. Overall, 27% of respondents had used technology tools to reduce overheads, 19% had saved money on the cost of new business, and 17% had been able to reduce staff costs. The introduction of new tech also better enabled small businesses to compete with other organisations on price (13%).
Joanna Morris Head of Insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance commented: “Over the course of the pandemic, more and more businesses have been forced to innovate and adapt – and technology has had a key role to play. Before the pandemic, many smaller companies said their technology maturity held them back but 18 months on, technology is now at the heart of operations and business planning. Our research also shows that embracing tech innovations also correlates with small business owners predicting growth for the months ahead.
“Whilst the pandemic era has been painful for some, many small businesses re-emerge from lockdown as more digitised and efficient enterprises. This gives them a solid foundation and, at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, we offer a wide range of resources and tools to enable business owners to build on this and financially plan for the future, helping them to reach their full potential”.