Two thirds of SMEs are set for the digital workplace, but company strategy is struggling to keep up

digital workplace

The leadership of Europe’s SMEs are keen to integrate digital and mobile technologies into the workplace, but over half of the same organisations do not have a strategy in place to achieve this, new research suggests.

A study of SMEs across Europe, found that 66 per cent of SME senior management believe that optimising the cloud, applications and mobile devices, thereby creating the digital workplace, is a strategic priority. However in spite of this, half of all organisations have no foreseeable plans to implement such a strategy.

The report further found that a quarter of SMEs are already thinking digital, as 26 per cent of respondents plan to invest in the digital workplace over the next year. However, security and cost seems to be a trending concern where half of SMEs cite data security as the major barrier between their organisation and the digital workplace and 30 per cent believe cost is the key issue.

Half of SMEs were found to be moving towards mobile working. 30 per cent are investing in technology designed to optimise the mobile workforce, while a further 20 per cent have plans to make similar purchases.

It was also inferred that finance and healthcare may provide the next digital SMEs where 80 per cent of workers in finance and healthcare think that the digital workplace will be of importance to their organisation.

Across all respondents, the number one reason given for investing in the mobile workplace is to achieve an increase in productivity, efficiency and flexibility, followed by the better access and sharing of data and improved team collaboration.

Jeremy Lye, European Marketing Manager at financial asset management company Schroders UK, commented:  “The more advanced digital technology and analytics we have invested in has increased our understanding of clients’ purchasing behaviours. It’s also very important to have flexibility to work from anywhere. Our clients are based across various parts of the country which means our sales people can now visit clients at their offices and access business data just as if they were in their office. This has improved sales productivity and clients are happier.”

The opportunity for expert partnership

In order to realise the benefits of the digital workplace, SME respondents in the report recognise the need to deploy better security policies and for IT departments to establish control of all devices being used for work. To understand how to achieve this, 85 per cent intend to seek the advice of a local IT partner.

Seeking out expert support is the number one strategy that SMEs plan to adopt in pursuit of the digital workplace, over and above peers, analyst reports or web searches.

Chris Kozup, VP Marketing at Aruba, said: “SMEs that are embracing the digital workplace are reaping the benefits, but it’s a tough ask for any IT manager to marry the ambitions of senior management with their limited budgets and perceived security concerns. Local IT partners have a huge opportunity to become trusted advisors that can help SMEs overcome these challenges, helping them to implement digital and mobile technologies that can improve business productivity, enhance customer experience and achieve increased revenues.”