According to research from BT Business, supported by the Design Council and Prince’s Trust, small businesses at the forefront of technology adoption have been the least impacted by the recession, with those most reluctant to bring in new technology suffering the most. Companies with a positive attitude to technology adoption had a 69% better than average experience of the recession, whereas technology laggards suffered a 34% worse recession experience than the average.
The survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of BT Business and included responses from more than 7,200 small businesses across the UK.
The 2009 Business Pulse report is the UK’s largest survey of SMEs this year. The survey shows widespread recognition of the importance of technology in reducing costs and increasing efficiency and competitiveness. 30% of businesses said that they have saved money through using technology, 32% use technology to network and obtain advice and 28% have found more customers through its use. Nearly one in five cited the use of technology to support flexible working as having one of the most significant impacts on how they have managed the recession.
The Business Pulse survey identified the positive steps firms have taken to manage the downturn. Nearly twice as many technology innovators have seen an increase in turnover of 10+% compared to those small businesses reluctant to embrace new technology, the majority of which have seen their turnover decrease since the recession began.
Mick Hegarty, strategy director, BT Business said: “The small business community has fought bravely to survive the downturn. Our findings show that many small businesses believe we are now at a tipping point with a recovery almost upon us. We can also see that now more than ever technology has a critical role to play in the future success of these businesses, helping them to find new customers, market themselves more effectively and reduce costs. Investing in better technology is emerging as a measure of success in the future for many businesses.”
In terms of the technologies having the biggest impact, 61% said faster broadband speeds have had a positive impact on their business. Better web sites, better e-commerce and mobile devices were also particularly beneficial. More than 1 in 10 small businesses are looking for more advice and support on using technology to manage their business.
Smaller organisations are also increasingly turning to social media to improve the way they operate with one in five respondents turning to support forums, Twitter and blogs to market their business and attract and retain customers.
Lord Digby Jones, said, “The Business Pulse highlights that optimism is on the rise. Equipping firms with the right technology and support will help tip the economy from recession onto the road to recovery in 2010.”
Full findings of the Business Pulse will be revealed in Small Business Week 2009 and debated by a business leadership panel including business experts Peter Jones and Lord Digby Jones at the launch.