Smaller businesses able to reach “digital maturity” faster than larger counterparts

Research compiled by technology business Ricoh, provided early to Real Business, has found that not only do small businesses believe “digital maturity” is a great opportunity to level the playing field, but think it is easier to achieve than other companies may find.

The Ricoh study has focused on the concept of “digital maturity”, a stage whereby businesses are using technology tools and have digitally manage processes – and just how it will impact on business leaders’ ability to grow and improve.

Some 79 per cent of small business leaders revealed that they have an implementation advantage when it comes to technology as their firms can optimise processes quicker. Furthermore, 64 per cent say they are able to understand, deploy and benefit from new technology in a “timelier manner”.

However, David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, commented: “While in the past we’ve seen smaller businesses lead the way in leveraging digital to amplify customer acquisition and sales, bigger businesses are gaining ground.

“The reality is that larger organisations have the resources to replicate and improve on the innovations of smaller businesses. They can use their size to drive more efficient operations, customer service and ultimately, profits.”

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Ricoh has determined that, despite smaller businesses feeling each are able to reach “digital maturity” quicker, these companies are less aware of the financial benefits available.

Twice as many small businesses (at 23 per cent) expect “digital maturity” to have no impact on profits at all when compared to larger ones (11 per cent). Large businesses cite easier access to information (93 per cent), improved business processes (90 per cent) and stronger competitive edge (86 per cent) as the main advantages to getting technologically tooled up.

For small businesses it is a case of easier access to information (79 per cent), improved business processes (79 per cent) and less time required to complete tasks (74 per cent).

Through speaking to its sample group, Ricoh suggests that lack of strategy and senior support are preventing small businesses from seeing “digital maturity” as a profit driver. Some 66 per cent of large businesses have a focused senior member responsible for implementing technology, compared to 53 per cent at smaller firms.

Mills added: “To ward off larger competition, smaller businesses need senior leadership to drive enthusiasm for digital initiatives within the organisation.

“Once small businesses have a digital strategy in place for the entire business process, including back-end operations and front-end customer service, they may develop a more positive outlook on how digital will enable business growth.”

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