Every business owner would surely agree that technology is an essential investment and can often drive competitive advantage. However, the depth and accuracy with which technology is researched and purchased by business owners can often be affected by the pressures of day to day work. Most business owners know that they can benefit from technology, but do they feel supported in their buying of it?
A brand new ‘Business Technology Audit’ of 788 UK small firms, commissioned by Fasthosts, finds that large disparities exist between those who are excelling with their use of technology and those that are struggling. The data reveals a split picture between the tech-haves and have-nots. The very good news is that some 48 per cent of firms report that have achieved more efficient or ‘smarter working’ through their use of technology.
In many firms, technology has improved work methods, driven growth, proved a sound investment and for over 40 per cent even proved enjoyable for their staff to use. As a result, one in three companies surveyed say that they have further technology in mind to implement in the near future.
However, a further 35 per cent of business owners are not fairing so well. 15 per cent are unhappy with the impact their technology has made to their business, and 20 per cent believe they now work harder after introducing it. So what have these firms done differently to lead to these shortcomings?
The answer could well lie in the statistic that around half of firms (48 per cent) feel that they should have better understood their technology before they made their purchases. Many businesses admit that they simply do not invest the time to ensure that they are buying the best technology for their needs.
An inadequate approach to buying and reviewing solutions can lead small businesses to miss out on the maximum value of technology being enjoyed by others. All firms must take steps in order to actively drive the efficiencies they gain. This should begin from the very start – firms can save money by evaluating their needs earlier in the process. It is vital to plan technology investments properly, working with suppliers to ensure the user needs are clear and the right solutions are being considered.
Another significant finding of the study is that in some firms, issues with technology are going unaddressed. Only 11 per cent of UK small firms review whether a technology has worked well after every new piece is introduced. Furthermore, only one in 10 firms has addressed performance issues with either the supplier or IT advisor who provided it. Surprisingly, only one in four firms seek the advice of an IT professional before they make substantial investments in technology, a worrying trend which shows businesses should work more closely with their suppliers before purchase to ensure they buy the right solution.
All businesses can gain massively by measuring the success rate of the solutions being deployed and take necessary steps to address errors or shortfalls in performance. In all aspects of buying IT, knowledge is the key to success for businesses, so contact suppliers to ask for advice, guidelines, case studies or examples of best-practice usage before an investment and on an on-going basis.
Clearly, some busy business owners can struggle to find the time and advice to ensure all technology investments are well placed. For a lot of firms, technology is delivering value to so many areas of business and work/life balance, however, in order to achieve this, every business owner needs to work with suppliers closely and understand how solutions should be best applied in order to secure the best result.
Over the coming months, Fasthosts’ ‘Work Better Online’ campaign aims to provide information and helpful tips on working practices, tools and technologies that can help firms to become more efficient and gain the time needed to have those ‘eureka’ moments that drive a business forward. Topics will include time management, workspace design, meetings, office dynamics, productivity, communication, motivation and real life case studies discussed.
Businesses can see more details at http://blogs.fasthosts.co.uk.
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