Just a fifth of small businesses 'tech-savvy' despite potential boost to bottom-line

Only a fifth of smaller businesses are “tech-savvy” despite the potential boost to turnover, a new survey suggests.

Royal Bank of Scotland parent NatWest’s Springboard to Recovery report found that tech is more critical than ever to the success of an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise), yet “far too few” businesses are open to modern technologies.

The research from a poll of 1,000 SMEs, analysis of more than 100 reports, as well as the results of 50 support programmes, found that just 20 per cent of UK SMEs describe themselves as tech-savvy.

However, between 2015 and 2019, firms that were open to digital transformation and adopting recent technologies were found to be two-and-a-half times more likely to experience a 20 per cent or more increase in revenue versus firms who were more resistant.

The research from a poll of 1,000 SMEs, analysis of more than 100 reports, as well as the results of 50 support programmes, found that just 20 per cent of UK SMEs describe themselves as tech-savvy. Picture: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

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The report discovered that if SMEs use two or more technology “solutions or tools”, they benefit from an average of a 25 per cent increase in productivity.

Gordon Merrylees, previously managing director of entrepreneurship at NatWest, Ulster Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland, and now chief commercial officer at Glasgow-based credit management platform Know-it, said: “The pandemic has been a make-or-break moment for small businesses - and those who more readily adopt innovative technologies come out on top.

“Due to how vital small businesses are to the UK economy, improving SMEs’ access to this new tech and giving them the support they need to adopt them will be crucial to future-proofing the UK economy and ensuring it recovers from the pandemic.

“Small businesses are about 50 per cent of the UK economy’s total output and represent even more employment figures - so creating a flourishing, supportive, small business ecosystem littered with new tech innovations will benefit everyone.

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“Due to their position in most supply chains, it will also have a knock-on, positive effect for even the most prominent conglomerates.”

Lynne Darcey Quigley, chief executive and founder of Know-it, added: “Being open to modern technologies has always been a cornerstone to entrepreneurial success, and we have seen countless businesses fail to reach their growth potential if they are resistant to this change.”

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