Is New Technology Making Life Harder For SMEs?

Lloyds Study Shows Modern Technology Is Forcing SME Owners To Work Longer Hours

28.11.2013

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are under increasing pressure to drag their businesses into the 21st century.

A new study conducted by Lloyds Bank Insurance has shown that 47 per cent of people who run micro-businesses feel they cannot switch off because of the need to adopt new technology.

Some 41 per cent of the respondents confirmed they are now working longer hours to ensure their firm does not fall behind its main rivals.

While technology has undoubtedly had a positive impact on companies, it can be hard for small businesses to keep up.

A recent report by PayPal indicated SMEs in the UK are collectively missing out on £800 million a year because they do not accept card payments.

With the digitisation of society continuing at pace, it is vital that companies are able to meet the technological needs of consumers, but some are clearly finding this very difficult.

Damien McGarrigle, head of Business Insurance at Lloyds Bank Insurance, said: "The race to stay at the forefront of technology, connectivity and innovation is now affecting even the smallest businesses."

Around 70 per cent of SMEs believe they need a strong online presence if they are to compete, while an overwhelming 87 per cent think it is vital that companies provide quick responses to customer enquiries.

With consumers increasingly using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to air their grievances, it is crucial that firms are monitoring these channels regularly.

Almost one in three organisations said they are under pressure to remain constantly connected - otherwise they could easily miss out on several important business leads.

Approximately 46 per cent of the poll suggested their primary concern was following the latest communication portals, while 28 per cent insisted that keeping up with the most recent gadgets was their biggest worry.

Unsurprisingly, security issues are also giving SME owners plenty of sleepless nights, with more than a quarter of companies feeling stressed about potential data loss.

Expert Opinion
The world of technology moves at a quick pace and while this research reveals some of the headaches it can create for start-ups and entrepreneurs, the fact SMEs care so much about this issue is because they recognise the huge opportunities which are available to them if they embrace evolving trends such as online platforms and social media channels.

"The key to leveraging such tools to their advantage is careful strategic planning on all of the key issues surrounding integrating new technologies and platforms into a business environment. This includes the legal implications of doing so, including the need to ensure online services comply with necessary regulations, that policies are in place to ensure social media is used properly by the workforce and that adequate systems are in place to reduce the risks of data loss.

"Having access to high quality legal advice which understands the concerns of SMEs is vital to this, as it will ensure that start-ups are on the right track when it comes to not only embracing technological change but also seeking out all of the opportunities which come with it."
Fergal Dowling, Partner