RSM Australia

46 percent of SMEs planning to invest in the digital space

Disruptive technologies and innovation are accelerating the need for change and are having a profound impact on many traditional business models and their revenue streams. To compete effectively, businesses must adapt and evolve quickly to respond to what is becoming the new 'norm'.

Operationally this is being made easier by digital technologies such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other business intelligence (BI) systems that let businesses get a clearer view of who their customers are and how to target them. However, culturally, this requires a significant shift in thinking.

Businesses need to adapt to include digital technologies such as customer relationship management systems and other business intelligence systems.Digital disruption aka business disruption can lead to  competitive advantages through the ability to deliver better services faster, regardless of company size. It’s no longer a matter of the big fish eating the small fish but the fast fish eating the slow fish.

Technology systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CRM are now more readily available to smaller businesses as cost and complexity reduce. And SMEs are looking to automation to achieve productivity and revenue improvements.

Digital disruption is occurring across many sectors. The four primary enablers that are now maturing to facilitate change include cloud, mobile, social and big data.

According to the latest thinkBIG study, businesses are increasingly investing in technology. 50 per cent of respondents said they increased financial investment in the digital space in the last 12 months. Further, 46 per cent of SME owners intend to make an increased financial investment in the digital space in the future.

Competition for customers and share of wallet is intensifying and now, more than ever, business owners need to be better connected to customers with a real focus on sales planning as part of their overall business strategy.

The study found that 13 per cent will launch web or mobile applications, 7 per cent will launch mobile tools for employees, 8 per cent will implement ERP or CRM systems, and just 8 per cent will implement a cloud-based accounting system.

At this stage it looks like this investment will continue to focus primarily on social and mobile and secondarily on big data or cloud, despite the many advantages and cost benefits of those technologies. Notwithstanding we expect that future investment in cloud will begin to pick up pace.

Organisations can leverage social media by actively asking customers for their feedback. This can help drive a stronger relationship with the customer, as well as informing the company’s overall strategy. There is also potential to use social media to drive revenue and it should be an integral part of an omni-channel approach that aggregates all customer data.

thinkBIG has measured the pulse of the Australian SME since 2005. It benchmarks business growth and profitability, business planning, exit planning, superannuation and the impact and uptake of technology. 446 business owners participated in the 2015 study, providing insights into how Australian SMEs feel about their business.

For more information about this article, please contact your nearest RSM Office