Spend on tech

Business First - - NEWS -

While small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are turn­ing to so­cial me­dia to help grow their brands, many are re­luc­tant to in­vest in tech­nol­ogy gen­er­ally, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est SME sur­vey from small busi­ness fi­nance specialist Bibby Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices.

Con­ducted by CoreData in Fe­bru­ary, the Bibby Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Small Busi­ness Barom­e­ter re­vealed Face­book is the most pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia tool for SMEs – with more than two in five re­spon­dents (43%) us­ing it for their busi­ness. Other com­mon so­cial me­dia chan­nels in­clude LinkedIn (23%), Twit­ter (19%) and Google+ (16%).

More­over, 22% of SMEs ex­pect sales growth to come from so­cial me­dia, high­light­ing its po­ten­tial to boost rev­enues.

The sur­vey also re­vealed close to two in five (38%) small businesses be­lieve web­sites are the most valu­able type of tech­nol­ogy. Other tech­nol­ogy medi­ums seen as ad­van­ta­geous in­clude so­cial me­dia (35%), high-speed broad­band (31%) and smart phones (31%).

How­ever, de­spite the per­ceived ben­e­fits of tech­nol­ogy, the ma­jor­ity of SMEs do not cur­rently have plans for in­creas­ing their tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment. Fewer than one in three re­spon­dents (31%) ex­pect to in­crease or sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease their in­vest­ment on tech­nol­ogy in the next year. A small pro­por­tion (5%) in­tend to re­duce their tech­nol­ogy spend while a fur­ther 12% are un­sure.

Mark Cleaver, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Aus­tralia and New Zealand, said: “Tech­nol­ogy can equalise the play­ing field be­tween big and small busi­ness. Whether this in­volves spend­ing more on faster com­put­ers, so­cial me­dia or on soft­ware that makes a busi­ness’ op­er­a­tions more ef­fi­cient, tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment is cru­cial for keep­ing up with com­peti­tors and the needs of cus­tomers.

“De­spite this, our sur­vey re­vealed three in 10 SMEs (29%) don’t be­lieve that tech­nol­ogy will of­fer any ad­van­tage over big­ger businesses. More­over, two in five SMEs (40%) don’t cur­rently use main­stream so­cial me­dia tools to pro­mote their busi­ness.

“SMEs need to use all the tools that they have avail­able to build their businesses and brands in a highly com­pet­i­tive land­scape. So­cial me­dia is an ef­fec­tive and low-cost mar­ket­ing tool that can help SMEs keep up with the ef­forts of big­ger businesses,” Mr Cleaver said.

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