Business Technology

Business technology is a mid-market imperative

4 min read

28 February 2013

A recent survey of business owners found that better information management and greater work flexibility are the top priorities for SMEs this year.

A majority of growing businesses will focus on better information management and greater flexibility for their team this year, a recent survey of Real Business readers found.

Business information management and flexible working are among the most important initiatives businesses will undertake this year, according to a recent survey by IT services specialist Acora.

Acora asked Real Business readers to take part in a survey that would determine the role of business technology in the mid-market. A third of respondents expected their business to grow more than 20 per cent over the coming year, and planned to achieve success mainly with initiatives that would complement the dynamic of the digital environment.

Improving their business information management was rated as the most important focus by respondents. This mirrors a struggle with the fast-moving information age. Businesses have been experiencing an overload of big data and, even if they are mastering the collection of vast amounts of information flowing through their company, are troubled with how to manage and analyse it for a useful purpose.

Closely following information management on the scale of importance are the development of internal systems and competitive differentiation. The latter may have never been more important than now, as large, attractive companies are snapping up talented young graduates before smaller mid-market businesses get the chance to throw in an offer. On the other end of the spectrum there is the start-up hype, making it easier than ever for first-time entrepreneurs to build their first venture. The world of enterprise is overflowing with innovative ideas and creative businesses, competing for the attention of media, potential employees, and customers. The mid-market is searching for ways to stand out from the crowd.

Third in line is workforce mobility and flexible working, which also came in first in the Real Business poll on which digital trend will influence the way we run a business in the next three years. Clearly, the “your team is everywhere” trend is highly present in the minds of business leaders, as a catalyst for change in the way we work, live, and succeed as an organisation. Flexible working opens up opportunities across a very wide spectrum, enables us to save time wasted on commuting, accommodates people’s personalities and working preferences, and allows working parents to juggle all parts of their lives more easily. This also includes outsourcing, as we’re watching the Talent as a Service market grow rapidly – it is estimated that Talent as a Service will, by 2020, affect approximately one out of three professionals worldwide, with vast economic and social consequences. It changes the dynamic of the workspace as we know it, and businesses understand the importance of this little revolution.

All of the respondents in this survey agreed that IT is a business imperative. It is telling – and perhaps surprising – that the least important initiatives for the following year were rated to be the growth through mergers and acquisitions, business continuity and disaster recovery, and divestments. 

Meanwhile, IT is represented at board level more than ever. Almost half of respondents had information technology represented in a dedicated executive position. Some 20 per cent said their business had IT represented by their CEO or MD.

David Rabson, CEO Acora commented: “The findings from this survey suggest a decrease of emphasis on long-term business planning, which is likely a result forced by economic instability. Instead, mid-market businesses are looking for short term gains through operational efficiency – outsourcing key processes, embracing digital tools and trends and leveraging data to maintain competitive advantage.”