COVID-19 changing SMEs’ view of the future
29 Jul 2020
- Remote working, increased virtual meetings and reduced physical premises likely
- Productivity and efficiency bigger drivers of change than customer communications
- Cloud computing, connectivity and big data top trends SMEs expect to change their industry
The far-reaching implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have already changed the way New Zealand businesses operate and according to a new report from MYOB, the experience will significantly increase their use of technology.
Released this week, the MYOB Tech Report highlights that local businesses are now making some major changes to futureproof their operations. Allowing employees to use flexible hours (55%), developing continuity planning (56%), using new technology (55%) and buying from local rather than international businesses (55%) are among the key changes local SMEs are now considering.
The use of technology has also prompted significant changes in the way businesses plan to work, with 49% allowing staff to work from home at least part of the week, 30% considering reducing or closing physical premises to focus on online sales, and 25% planning to introduce more automation or technology to reduce dependence on human workers.
MYOB New Zealand Country Manager, Ingrid Cronin-Knight, says New Zealand businesses have been through an extraordinary transformation which is likely to reshape the economy for years to come.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses and their employees to change the way they work and as a result, many are now reassessing their operations,” explains Ingrid.
“Because technology has enabled businesses to do things differently - some much more so than before - many SME operators are now more open to reimagining how they plan to work in the future.”
Technology driving increased performance
However, it isn’t just the restrictions and disruptions that businesses faced during the initial response to pandemic that are driving these decisions.
“Our insights suggest that many businesses saw real improvements as a result of the changes they made through the use of technology, such as video calling, cloud applications, instant messaging and even setting up an e-commerce site. Now, they’re looking to lock these benefits in for the future with a focus on driving positive business outcomes like improved productivity and boosting staff or customer engagement,” explains Ingrid.
Top five reasons SMEs are more likely to look at new opportunities to use technology:
- To increase productivity (68%)
- To ensure their business is more efficient (65%)
- To allow staff to work remotely if necessary (44%)
- To ensure they can communicate with staff (37%)
- To ensure they can communicate with customers (36%)
How technology has changed business over the last five years
When it comes to looking back at the impact technology has had for New Zealand SMEs over the past five years, SME operators have witnessed a range of changes to the way they do business as a result of increasing their use of technology.
From physical reminders of a changing workspace, such as the reduction in the use of paper records (40%), to improved productivity and efficiency (36%), to creating a better environmental footprint (25%) – many aspects of the working environment have shifted since 2015 as a result of a greater use of technology.
Among the leading tech trends that SME decision-makers say are driving the changes in their workplaces are the move to virtual rather than physical meetings (39%), the increasing use of mobile devices over desktop PCs (34%) and the adoption of cloud computing (32%).
Expected changes over the next five years
Over the next five years, many of these trends will become even more prevalent amongst SMEs, as other, more-advanced technologies begin to have an impact on the smaller business sector.
The top five technologies SMEs expect will change their industry over the next five years:
- Cloud computing (38%)
- Improvements in connectivity (34%)
- Big data (21%)
- Automation and robotics / 3D printing (17%)
- AI (16%)
“We’re on the cusp of real transformation in the way SMEs do business,” explains Ingrid.
“While it has been driven by necessity, the dynamism of our SMEs and the eagerness of local business operators to be responsive to change and ready to explore new innovations should create real advantages for the SME sector and the wider economy, in the future.”
The MYOB Techweek panel
MYOB’s latest Tech Report insights will inform MYOB’s Techweek 2020 panel discussion, held in partnership with Auckland University of Technology (AUT).
The virtual event, taking place at 6.30pm on Thursday 30th July, will see a panel of experts discuss: “How Coronavirus transformed our use of technology.”
Looking at both the technological impacts of the pandemic, new opportunities and the implications for the local economy, the panel will feature:
- Priti Ambani Director of Innovation, Tech Futures Lab
Over the last 10 years, in Asia, North America and Europe, Priti has led initiatives and start-up ventures that leverage the dynamics of digital collaboration and emerging disruptive technologies to create thriving societies.
- John Flackett AI Specialist in Residence, AUT and Head & Co-founder, AiLab
A noted AI speaker with 20+ years’ experience and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, John regularly presents on key insights on emerging technologies and their future impact on society. John has received various awards, featured in the UK's 2019 Million Plus campaign and has co-founded two businesses: koolth & AiLab.
- Grant Mclvor MYOB Head of Delivery Enterprise
Grant is an established product development leader with a Bachelor of Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. At MYOB he delivers Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and payroll solutions as Head of Delivery for Enterprise.
- Abby Thompson MYOB Protégé Developer
A software engineering graduate from Auckland University who interned at Google and Macquarie Bank in Sydney. After a year-long working holiday in Canada, Abby secured a Graduate Developer role at MYOB in Auckland.
For further details about the event visit www.techweek.co.nz.
For more information please contact:
Janelle Ericksen, MYOB, PR Specialist
M: 021 1050 490 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Blank, The Agency Communications Limited, Director
P: 03 341 5841 / M: 0275 243 629 / E: email@example.com
MYOB Technology Survey – methodology
The MYOB Technology Survey was conducted using Pure Profile’s business panel. In total, 401 SME decision makers were surveyed from employing businesses. The June survey was conducted online from June 3rd – 12th 2020.
MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in New Zealand and Australia start, survive and succeed. At the heart of MYOB is a customer base of 1.2 million businesses and a network of more than 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and consultants, for whom MYOB delivers end-to-end business and accounting solutions. MYOB operates across four key segments: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Enterprise, Financial Services and Practice. For more information visit myob.com or follow @MYOB on Twitter.