Regarding the CBI’s recently published report ‘From Ostrich to Magpie’, many SMEs still think that fundamental digital disruption is something that only effects other companies in the immediate future. While they understand the need to change, many struggle to see how to change and where to start.
The UK is known for being highly innovative and an early adopter of technology but the report also highlights that there is a long tail of businesses – largely SMEs – that are burying their heads and not adopting proven technologies and new ways of working. The result is a significant contribution to the sluggish levels of productivity.
In the past decade, we have seen innovative new ways of working wipe out many previously successful businesses. The advent of online streaming of films did for Blockbuster. More recently Uber turned on its head minicabs and taxis across the world. However, I speak to too many business leaders who still view these examples as rare and not something that challenges their own organisation in the immediate future.
The truth is that technology is so imbedded and fundamental to doing business in every industry, that even small innovations in technical capability – and the better ways of working that it brings – can bring significant advantage and wipe out the competition. It is this fact that all businesses, of all sizes, need to wake up to.
However, the tech industry could also make it easier for SMEs to adapt to change. Too often the sell being made is for ‘transformational digital change’ but for an SME that is strapped for time and resources, language like this can be too daunting, resulting in change being put into the too difficult box.
Rather than talking about big changes and technology, the approach needed for many SMEs is smaller, incremental change that emphasises practical changes to business operations. It is about making the biggest impact on the bottom line while causing the least amount of chaos as new business models come into force.