Technology can be both a blessing and a curse for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Certain technologies can help improve SME’s efficiency and productivity, but they can also be a great financial burden. For example, downloading inventory software can boost efficiency and productivity, but it may come at a significant financial cost.
In this article, we outline some key challenges that SMEs can expect to face regarding technology, including financial challenges and issues for IT. Understanding these challenges can help SME managers to get prepared and be proactive in trying to negate these challenges.
Technology is Expensive
Most SMEs will face financial hardship during their business life, especially as they are starting out. Because of this, gaining access to the most efficacious technologies may prove very difficult. By comparison, larger companies have a lot of financial wiggle room, and acquiring the latest technologies is much more viable. While SMEs may benefit from downloading inventory software, for example, if finances are already an issue this can be burdensome if the technology is expensive.
Independent research firm Ipsos has found that 9 out of 10 small business owners identify the costs of maintaining and upgrading technology as their biggest challenge. Likewise, only 46% of these business owners feel that their budget has the capacity to allow them access to the same technologies as larger companies.
Ipsos has demonstrated that technologies such as laptops, desktop computers, and smartphones come at a significant cost to SMEs. Similarly, outsourced tech support, landline telephones and cloud computing technologies also come at a significant cost to SMEs.
Most SMEs outsource their technology management and support to reduce costs. However, this means that IT human resources are limited by budget and the capabilities of the services provider of their choice, which puts business executives at risk of becoming wholly reliant on external support.
If business executives do not have adequate IT training themselves, they are largely at the whim of the company they pay to carry out IT maintenance. This can be problematic if the specific company turns out a bad fit, and may result in wasted money.
In a similar vein, if business executives of SMEs do seek to bring IT support in-house, they will likely struggle to attract skilled professionals. Because larger companies can generally offer higher wages and greater benefits, even if executives want to keep IT in-house, they may struggle to secure the right people anyway.
Improving IT Systems with Growth
These issues with IT generally do not fade away as your company begins to grow. In fact, the faster your SME grows, the better you must be at keeping up with new technologies. As your small business begins to grow into a medium sized business and so on, you will probably find that free technologies such as Dropbox and Google Drive no longer make the cut.
This may require that you look into inventory software. Downloading inventory software can sometimes add to the financial burden that comes with IT maintenance and support. When this happens, it is advisable to seek out a technology services consultant who has helped other SME’s navigate this transitionary period, so that you are able to remain productive and efficient without draining your finances.