46 per cent of SME owners plan to invest more in digital

50 per cent of SMEs increased financial investment in the digital space in the last 12 months and 46 per cent intend to further increase them, according to a survey.

The thinkBIG study found that 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.

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.

Andrew Sykes, director, RSM Bird Cameron, said, “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.”

The study also 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,” said Sykes.

446 business owners participated in the 2015 thinkBIG study, providing insights into how Australian SMEs feel about their business.