The Warsaw Voice » Business » Monthly - April 30, 2018
Business & Economy
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Agility essential to SMB survival as half of leaders say they won’t exist in 2023 without it
Tech-driven productivity and innovation seen as a crucial driver of enduring success

For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) across Europe, 2018 will be a year of unprecedented challenge and opportunity. Fundamental regulatory changes such as the introduction of GDPR, a widening skills gap in the labour market and a consolidating business landscape will require decision-makers to make substantial changes. They will need to make careful investments to chart a course for success. Fortunately, Europe’s SMBs are ambitious. Despite challenging market conditions they are doing everything they can to seek out and reap maximum benefit from the new opportunities available to them. What’s more, they recognise that boosting their agility is vital for achieving this. In a business context, agility is both the mind-set and the ability to respond quickly. An agile culture should be open-minded, allow for taking measured risks and welcome processes that allow for quick decision-making. The workplace technology should allow the business to scale quickly or evolve its strategy in a cost-effective way.

Improving agility is a top priority for European SMB leaders seeking to take advantage of a digitally empowered workplace. According to a new study commissioned by Ricoh Europe, the majority (86%) of the 1,608 SMB leaders surveyed say they are actively focusing on improving business agility in 2018.

Half of the respondents (51%) are specifically introducing new technology to respond faster to trends and opportunities, while 52% say that without the benefits of updated workplace technology they will fail within five years.

SMB decision makers clearly prioritise technology that directly addresses core employee needs. They believe automation (72%), data analytics (64%), document management (62%) and video conferencing (56%) will have the most positive impact on their business.

Javier Diez-Aguirre, VP Corporate Marketing, Ricoh Europe said: “The European SMB community is hugely ambitious. As a result of challenging market conditions, business leaders are rightly eager to identify new opportunities early and reap the maximum reward. They know that remaining agile is crucial in order to capitalise on market changes and value the role technology plays in this. It’s clear that agility is high up on the SMB agenda and business leaders do not see the issue as being exclusive to larger competitors.”

The productivity and innovation benefits of smarter workplace technology is considered a critical factor for business success. 70% of those questioned put technology at the heart of their organisation’s capacity to thrive, indicating a strong belief in the value of a digitally empowered workplace.

Diez-Aguirre added: “SMB leaders aren’t fooled by the hype around technologies such as virtual reality and blockchain. Instead, they wisely choose to prioritise investment in the tools that will have a real, positive impact on the bottom-line. Those that haven’t already must carefully consider how technology can enable their employees to work faster and smarter, thus making their business more agile. If not, they could soon find that they’re the ones facing extinction as the market moves on without them”.