Why tech investment should be biggest priority for SMEs in 2024

By Ian Hoddle, Director of Enterprise, Virgin Media O2 Business

Findings from Virgin Media O2 Business’s Tech Untapped report reveal that nearly two-thirds (64%) of SMEs rank growth and maintaining their current financial position as the most important priorities for their business strategy. So, it is no surprise that we’re seeing businesses focus more on identifying new growth opportunities to boost revenue.

And SMEs have spoken on the most prevalent ways of doing so. According to the AXA Startup Report, the top priority for SMEs looking to drive growth was to reinitiate work with previous clients (21%). This was closely followed by introducing new products or services (20%) and acquiring new domestic clients (19%).

However, in the continued pursuit of financial gains, many business leaders risk overlooking the importance of other growth drivers, with implementing new technology a lower priority for business leaders compared to last year.

This suggests that businesses may be overlooking the importance of existing and new tech, from unified communications to the latest connectivity solutions, in helping to facilitate their growth journey. 

The risk of neglecting tech 

Tech has far-reaching impacts on businesses, which if ignored, can be detrimental to their productivity and team morale. Internally, insufficient tech can impact employee engagement and the ability to collaborate effectively across teams. Externally, poor tech can impact the quality of work that employees are able to achieve for their customers, creating a competitive disadvantage and threatening their revenue during trying financial times.

In our Tech Untapped report, outdated software and hardware (40%), and slow internet connectivity (27%) are named as the top most inefficient tech that continues to be used by SMEs. This has major implications for businesses, with 71% of respondents stating that legacy tech has hindered efficiency within their organisation.

Since business growth is dependent on both internal and external factors working in tandem, business leaders cannot afford to neglect the role of tech if they are to operate a successful workforce. 

Tech as a driving force

Up-to-date tech is a driving force that can help SMEs to reach their long-term financial goals, by allowing customers and employees to seamlessly collaborate and engage with each other.

Productive employees make for a more economically productive business. So, it is no surprise that 87% of SME leaders stated that they notice an improvement in productivity when they supply employees with new tech, alongside 77% noticing a boost in morale.

Moreover, with customer satisfaction being one of the biggest measures of success for SMEs, the ability to deliver great work to customers is of increasing importance.

Decision makers must remember that achieving growth isn’t just about the number of products that they offer or how many clients they have. It is also about ensuring sufficient investment in essential tech. The integration of devices like collaboration tools, and implementing automated processes, can propel businesses towards bigger financial goals. 

How can suppliers help?

With up-to-date tech playing such a central role in business performance, unlocking the value of existing and new solutions should be a top priority. However, with often limited resources, suppliers must also assist these organisations in recognising how to get the most out of existing solutions and maximise the benefits of new tech investments.

Outside of the expected causes, such as budget constraints, 28% of SMEs identify the lack of support from digital suppliers and partners as hindering their ability to use their tech most efficiently.

Suppliers should be prepared to support businesses in tackling the economic challenges which they face. This means guiding them through smarter tech investment choices, helping them to set up these new digital tools and providing them with bespoke training opportunities so that SMEs, their employees and their customers benefit from improved performance. 

Making tech a priority

Employee productivity and customer satisfaction are the building blocks of economic growth for small and medium businesses. However, without quality tech in place, opportunities for growth come under threat.

Therefore, SMEs must ensure that tech investment doesn’t fall by the wayside and should instead make it a priority to achieve their long-term business goals. To achieve this, business leaders must carefully consider a supplier that will go above and beyond, dedicating time and guidance on how to best maximise their technology.

As SMEs look towards opportunities for growth for the year ahead and beyond, it’s never been more important for businesses to leverage the right digital tools and support.