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The Agility Engine

The Importance of Information Technology (IT) in Developing Small and Medium-Sized Businesses for Success in the Next Economy

Findings from SAP and Oxford Economics Research

 

A thriving small and medium-scale business sector is essential for a strong market economy. Also known as SMEs, these businesses account for more than 99% of all firms worldwide. The Government of Canada acknowledges the organizations that have up to 99 employees as small and the ones that have 100 employees to 499 employees as medium-sized. According to Canadian- December 2019 statistics, while 97.9% of the Canadian economy consists of small-sized, 1.9% consists of medium-sized, and only 0.2% is large-scaled businesses. As can be grasped from the statistics, SMEs account for a significant amount of value-added to the economy and employment.

Conforming to European Bank (Why small businesses matter?), smaller companies are more adaptable and agile to change than big corporations. Still, they are also more exposed to changes in the business climate. They are often more vulnerable to domestic difficulties and have fewer resources to fall back on challenging circumstances. So, we can see that even though their sizes help them form some perspectives, many others may contribute to them falling far short of their potential. Considering these circumstances, it is evident that they will need some tools to survive in today’s world, which is where IT enters our topic. 

In a nutshell, IT sets the foundation for long-term resilience and ensures that every part of the business has the tools it needs to meet its strategic goals. The role of IT is to invest in technologies that scale to give businesses the flexibility to grow.

I believe that we can say today every business is a technology business. If not the company itself directly working on technology, they have to use it in some part of their daily tasks. IT builds an excellent foundation for the rest of the company for long-term viability, lays the groundwork for continued digital transformation, and assures that every department has the resources it needs.

To better understand how small and midsize businesses are preparing themselves for the new economy, SAP and Oxford Economics polled 2,000 executives. They evaluated the replies from leading organizations to see where techniques differed to established the best strategies.

 

Oxford Economics and SAP performed the survey during the early months of the COVID-19 epidemic; thus, the results provide insight into how small and midsize businesses have dealt with the issue and the role of IT in addressing the problems ahead. 

 

According to the research, even if they don’t know how their businesses will need to develop in the future, the most accomplished IT functions define themselves by establishing platforms for continuous innovation and evolution. The research revealed that the technology executives who did the survey chose growth and strengthened customer experiences as the top two strategic goals for their businesses to enable digitalization and enhance productivity. As smaller companies try to be robust and competitive in the face of prolonged market instability, focusing on continuous growth and solid relationships with customers and workers is more important than ever. Even managers who answered the poll during COVID-19’s early peak were more inclined to value growth and experience over risk-related objectives.

 

However, meeting these goals poses several issues for small and midsize businesses. The IT department bears the brunt of the burden, as it must support an expanding number of new initiatives and procedures while running the business. The main problems for IT leaders during expansion times, according to the poll, are providing 24/7 availability and cybersecurity, the latter of which becomes significantly more complex as companies expand into new markets, offer unique product lines, or hire more people. 

 

More than only IT operations are impacted by scaling difficulties. Technology executives consider it to be the most significant impediment to bettering employee and consumer experiences. 

IT must be well-integrated with other organization sections to continuously grow to meet evolving customer and employee demands and handle market fluctuations.

 

More extraordinary digital experiences for consumers and employees have become a game-changer for small and midsize businesses in the aftermath of the pandemic and other upheavals. In this changing area, the IT department’s function is even more crucial.

 

Customers, for instance, have grown more dependent on e-commerce as lockdowns have made in-person buying impossible, and they will remain to anticipate the ease and dependability that IT provides. Meanwhile, remote workers require continuing technical support for new settings and virtual tools and the capacity to communicate digitally with HR and other departments. Many small and medium-sized businesses are utilizing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to connect these operations and engage in e-commerce, data modeling, and artificial intelligence to aid in business improvement. Further use of these technologies could give managers additional operational information from across the firm, which was a common challenge among survey respondents.

References

Oxford, E., & SAP. (2020). The Agility Engine. The Role of IT in Preparing Small and Midsize Organizations for Growth in the next Economy.

Services, S. B. T. M. (2020, December 10). Key Small Business Statistics – 2020. SME research and statistics. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03126.html#how-SME.

Why small businesses matter. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). (n.d.). https://www.ebrd.com/what-we-do/sectors-and-topics/why-small-businesses-matter.html.

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