Technology investment top priority for SMEs in next five years — HSBC UK

The study from HSBC UK found that 67% of UK SMEs expect technology to increase flexible working practices, making technology and innovation investment a top priority going forward.

Regarding the past six months, as SMEs have adjusted to remote working during the pandemic, video conferencing tools, high speed internet and virtual customer support packages were cited as key to their survival.

Commenting on the study, which surveyed 2,600 companies globally, Roland Emmans, head of technology for HSBC UK Commercial Banking, said: “As firms look to build further resilience, investment in tech is at the forefront of their plans. Business leaders are looking to change their traditional ways of working and find ways that they can innovate to adapt their existing office spaces.

“This reliance on technology has softened the impact of the pandemic on the tech sector and provided growth opportunities for firms that have adapted quickly to provide continuity in their services.”

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Remote working

Further research from HSBC UK, which surveyed business leaders from 49 tech firms, found that 74% expect their company to work more remotely than before the Covid-19 crisis took hold, while just one in three believe that productivity levels have been impacted.

64%, meanwhile, stated expectation of changes in office space, and 52% said work space reduction in order to adjust to the ‘new normal’ is likely.

In addition, 52% expect to make changes to products or services as a result of the pandemic, identifying enhanced online journeys and self-serve capabilities as key changes to their operations.

Peter Sweetbaum, CEO of Content+Cloud, a HSBC UK customer that shifted all 750 of its employees to remote working at the start of lockdown, explained how the pandemic has affected operations.

“Moving into lockdown, we were operational pretty seamlessly, but getting people settled into a new way of working took some effort,” said Sweetbaum. “We knew we had to maintain a strong staff culture and make sure we took care of our employees physical and mental wellbeing.

“To do that we created a series of social engagements focusing on physical and mental wellbeing and learning and development, covering everything from ‘coding for kids’ to yoga. It was amazing to see how well people responded and we’re still running them now.”

Commenting on the trends he has seen occur during lockdown, Sweetbaum added: “Many of the major tech trends we are seeing come to the fore today are not new; Covid-19 has accelerated the transformations that were going to happen anyway. We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.

“Use of cloud technology has increased over the last five years, but remote working has forced businesses to move from paper-based or rigid legacy systems into flexible mobile-first and cloud-native applications.

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“Suddenly having a ubiquitous communication tool, or a single way to access all their technology has become so much more important to our clients than it ever was.

“Their priorities have changed, and so their appreciation of — and dependency on — these technologies has changed.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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