Digital adoption driven by COVID-19


31st July, 2020

COVID-19 drives digital adoption among SMEs

Flexible hours and remote working have suddenly gone mainstream, increasing the appetite among small business operators for better connectivity and more cloud-based solutions.

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 how local businesses are making major changes in an effort to future-proof their operations.

Allowing employees to use flexible hours (55 percent), developing continuity planning (56 percent), using new technology (55 percent) and buying from local rather than international businesses (55 percent) are among the key changes SMEs are considering.

The use of technology is also seeing a significant change in the way businesses plan to work, with 49 percent now allowing staff to work from home at least part of the week, 30 percent considering reducing or closing physical premises to focus on online sales, and 25 percent planning to introduce more automation or technology to reduce dependence on human workers.

MYOB New Zealand Country Manager, Ingrid Cronin-Knight, said New Zealand businesses have been through an extraordinary transformation that’s likely to influence 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,” explained Cronin-Knight.

“Because technology has enabled businesses to do things differently — some much more so than before — many SME operators are now more open to re-imagining how they plan to work in the future.”

The right tech drives performance, enhances efficiency

But 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 and are now looking to lock these in for the future, from productivity to staff engagement,” explains Ingrid.

Top five reasons SMEs are more likely to look at new opportunities to use technology

  1. To increase productivity (68%)
  2. To ensure their business is more efficient (65%)
  3. To allow staff to work remotely if necessary (44%)
  4. To ensure they can communicate with staff (37%)
  5. To ensure they can communicate with customers (36%)

SMEs see environmental benefits from tech adoption

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.

Beyond things like business efficiency gains, SME operators also recognised the important environmental benefits that tech adoption was bringing about.

Since 2015, the declining use of paper records was cited as a noteworthy shift (40 percent), as was creating a better environmental footprint (25 percent).

So what are the leading tech trends seen as driving these changes in the workplaces? They’re the move to virtual, rather than physical meetings (39 percent), the increasing use of mobile devices over desktop PCs (34 percent) and the adoption of cloud computing (32 percent).

Top 5 tech trends for the future of business

Over the next five years, many of these trends will become even more prevalent among SMEs, as other, more-advanced technologies begin to have an impact on the smaller business sector.

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The top five technologies SMEs expect will change their industry over the next five years are:

  1. Cloud computing (38%)
  2. Improvements in connectivity (34%)
  3. Big data (21%)
  4. Automation and robotics/3D printing (17%)
  5. AI (16%)

“We’re on the cusp of real transformation in the way local SMEs do business,” explained Cronin-Knight.

“While it’s 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.”

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