Digital, digital, digital... Hear it too many times, and indifference sets in.
At least, that’s how many European SMEs feel, according to our recent research that looks at how small businesses across Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Spain and the UK are using digital services to change how they operate, their importance to future growth, and plans for implementation.
This ‘digital fatigue’ is an issue because it’s causing SMEs to fail to act. And a business that stands still, stands to lose out.
Alert to the benefits
What’s more, other regions are ready to fill the gap; SMEs in emerging economies in Latin America are more alert to the benefits of digitalisation. Our research shows that 79% of businesses in the region see technology as very important to their business’s growth, compared with just 55% in Europe. Specifically, for the Internet of Things (IoT), IDC predicts SMEs in LATAM will see the fastest growth of all regions in IoT spending, at a rate of 21.7% compound annual growth rate through 2021.
While there are clear differences in attitudes between Latin America and Europe, there is a common understanding of the importance of digital services to growing businesses.
However, understanding does not always translate into action. While 87% of those surveyed in Chile said they planned to implement AI in the next three years, just 59% of UK SMEs said the same. Is this complacency on the UK’s part? Perhaps business-as-usual is doing enough for enterprise there. Yet with a constantly evolving business world, failing to at least explore the possibilities of innovation through digital services is a risky move.
Challenging the status quo
For the globalised economy to work, businesses need to aim to evolve at pace. Europe must realise that, as strong as its economy might be, resting on laurels will only result in one thing: long-term slowdown.
There is no inevitability about failure in business, yet the margins between success and insolvency can be painfully thin. The intent to revolutionise through technology is there, from SMEs the world over.
It’s SMEs that are agile enough to find niches the large corporations don’t cover. It’s SMEs that have the freedom to innovate and challenge the status quo. The opportunities are there.