27 November 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Three quarters of UK SMEs may be failing to embrace workplace technologies such as cloud, mobile working and BYOD, stifling their growth, productivity and employee engagement, according to research.
The study titled 'The Missed Middle' commissioned by Crown Workspace, states that despite IT analyst Gartner forecasting that by 2022 cloud will make up almost a third of IT spending, only a quarter of SMEs are highly prepared for it. This lack of cloud innovation could impact SMEs' business agility, security and financial efficiency.
Voice technology has seen huge adoption over the past few years, however, fewer than one in five respondents are ready for it in the workplace.
Equally, despite the ubiquity of mobile devices, only a quarter feel very prepared as a business to enable proper mobile working and accommodating personal devices.
However, some new technologies such as Li-Fi (cellular wireless networking using light) and automated heating and lighting are creeping onto the SME agenda.
The research stated that the good news is most respondents feel their connectivity is up to the mark, as only one in five said they need better broadband speed and Wi-Fi to support expansion. However, technology seems to take a back seat when it comes to growth strategies, with more SMEs worrying about having better storage facilities as they grow.
Over two thirds of SME owners admit their current workplace, including its lack of technological innovation, is limiting engagement with employees and their ability to retain the best talent. Cost is the most common barrier preventing SMEs from creating the optimum workspace that features modern technology.
Simon Gammell, director at Crown Workspace, said: "Modern technology has created a new set of rules for the workplace. Tech such as Wi-Fi, remote storage and mobile are what employees expect, and that's what SME owners should consider first when designing a workspace to ensure that their people can work and communicate effectively. Design factors such as layout, equipment and furniture are also massively important too but should not come at the detriment of technology."
Hugh Prissick, owner of project management company, Storey, says: "Landlords are conscious that occupiers need faster broadband speeds and greater access to strong wireless connections, amongst other technological advances. Future proofing buildings is difficult but landlords and developers are placing technology at the heart of the design of new buildings."
The survey was carried out independently with 500 owners of SMEs with 150 employees or less from across the UK.