SAP Research: SMEs benefit from digital but need to get ‘more personal’

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Growth comes from big data and CRM but avoid relying on it too much shows SAP research

Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) that have embraced digital technology show faster growth than companies that have not. The findings come from a new study released today by SAP that analysed data from 3,210 respondents in 11 countries who work at a company with between 10 and 999 employees.

The study, conducted by IT research firm IDC, indicates strongly that SMEs around the world understand and benefit from the value of analytics, collaborative and customer relationship management (CRM) software to compete with larger enterprises.

SAP_Locations_Walldorf_2012_014_t@900x598The study’s most significant findings about the adoption rate and benefits SMEs are experiencing from digital technologies include:

More than 39 percent of SMEs in all regions agree that “active participation in the digital economy will be essential to our company’s survival in the next three to five years”

SMEs that grew revenue 10 percent or more in the last year say they are “well under way in applying technology to connect people, devices and businesses.” This represents more than one third of all SMEs, and more than 45 percent of SMEs with between 500 and 999 employees in the survey

At least 50.6 percent of SMEs across all regions surveyed use collaborative software as a result of their digital transformation, making the technology the most used by SMEs. CRM and business analytics software were the next most used by SMEs, with at least 38 percent and 37 percent of SMEs in every region using the respective technologies

Between 52.5 percent and 60.2 percent of SMEs surveyed said that “new technology solutions have allowed us to begin or continue revising our workflow and processes to streamline operations and improve productivity”

However, between 35 percent and 45 percent of SMEs surveyed are “concerned that we will rely too much on data to make effective business decisions.” This concern was more prevalent among larger SMEs.

And about one third (between 30.4 percent and 36.6 percent) of SMEs surveyed agreed that “personal relationships among company employees have not been strengthened by our adoption of technology,” with larger SMEs agreeing more.

The overwhelming message from this report is that digital transformation has a big impact on small businesses around the world,” said Rodolpho Cardenuto, president, Global Channels & General Business, SAP.

It is proven that companies using these technologies run simpler and grow faster. It is also clear that personal connections and business instincts continue to play an important role in making the right decision. SMEs should think about navigating a digital transformation journey that lets them combine the best of both worlds.”