Technology has been a major boost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) during the pandemic, not only in helping them survive the lockdowns, but also enabling them to improve their business and become more efficient.
This is according to a new report from Hitachi Capital Business Finance, which found that 76% of SMBs used tech last year to improve their operations. An even higher percentage – 84% experienced at least modest growth, while 91% of them expect “significant expansion” in the future.
The pandemic played a key role in this, the report further hints, saying that in the months and years before Covid-19, almost a third of SMBs (30%) said their tech capabilities were actually holding them back.
Of all the different technologies and use cases, the biggest effect was felt in streamlining customer service. Improving productivity, and cutting costs were also cited as major areas of improvement.
A significant minority of small businesses (43%) used new technologies to improve the productivity of their remote working staff. That further helped cut down on travel time to-and-from meetings and improved employee productivity. Finally, new tech introduced smarter and safer ways to store and manage sensitive information.
It was also said that new tech made SMBs more environmentally friendly, as well.
Assisting with cash management
Cashflow is also better managed with tech. Some used it to reduce overheads, others saved extra funds on the cost of new business. In some cases, SMBs were able to reduce staff costs, too, while others grew more competitive on the wider market.
A year and a half into the pandemic, technology is now, “at the heart of operations and business planning” for many SMBs, said Joanna Morris Head of Insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance.
“Embracing tech innovations also correlates with small business owners predicting growth for the months ahead,” she added.
The research has shown that the pandemic has been “painful” for many SMBs, but it helped them grow into more digitized and more efficient enterprises, she concluded.