A new research report reveals how technology decision makers at UK financial sector SMEs are prioritising use of data and insights to ensure business continuity and growth. IT services provider OGL Computer has revealed the top technology concerns and priorities for UK SMEs in its new report: The State of Technology at UK SMEs.
The report also highlights newer technologies such as robotics and AI that SMEs plan to adopt, how SMEs are using technology to power remote workforces and what technologies they are adopting for growth.
To develop the report, OGL Computer surveyed technology decision-makers in SMEs with 50-500 employees across a range of industries and conducted in-depth interviews with leaders in 17 financial sector SMEs to identify their top priorities and concerns for 2020.
Paul Colwell, technical director, OGL Computer and its cyber division CyberGuard Technologies, commented: “The inaugural State of Technology at UK SMEs report reveals that IT decision-makers at SMEs have clear strategies for the future, and understand the opportunities and challenges that face their verticals in 2020.
“These range from the perennial, such as the ever-present threat of serious cyber-attack or data breach to effectively managing the increasing amount of data flowing through the organisation. In addition, moving to the cloud securely and an ongoing lack of technology-savvy workers emerged as key themes.
“Handling these challenges, all with a fraction of the resources of their larger, corporate counterparts requires flexibility and demonstrates the resilience that gives SMEs the power to succeed. As we head into a new decade where the only constant is likely to be change, it is heartening to learn through our survey that SMEs continue to adopt innovative products and services.”
Key findings for financial sector SMEs:
Technology priorities and concerns
The survey established the technology priorities and concerns among SMEs are expecting in 2020:
- The top three key technology priorities: increasing use of data and insights 65 %, increasing cyber security provision 35% and moving towards a more proactive IT strategy 52%
- The three main technology concerns for financial sector SMEs were cyber security attacks, data management, and a lack of technology-savvy workers,
- 71% of financial sector respondents said that increasing the use of cloud computing is planned, to drive business efficiencies and profitability
- 92% of SMEs are planning to spend more on cyber security and IT in 2020
Cyber security trends
Cyber security features heavily in the report with respondents revealing attack frequency, cyber strategy status and employee training to combat hackers.
- The vast majority of financial sector SMEs confirmed that they were increasingly worried, with 82% more fearful of a cyber-attack or data breach
- 94% confirmed that they had suffered a data breach or cyber-attack
- Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 (17%) IT decision-makers surveyed have no cyber strategy in place, however in the financial sector only 6% didn’t have a strategy in place and claimed they are working on one.
- 94% of financial sector respondents agree that they are nervous about moving from an on-premise IT infrastructure to a cloud infrastructure due to fears of data security, compared to 76% across several other industries, including retail, healthcare and legal
- 98% of IT decision-makers in SMEs educate employees about how to identify a cyber threat, with the most popular approach being a combination of external and internal training (32%)
- SMEs in the financial sector were more likely to suffer 3 or 4 breaches than any other sector at 50%, while healthcare and IT & Telecoms sectors were most likely to suffer 2 breaches at 75%.
Colin Dennis, head of technical operations, OGL Computer said: “Cyber security has been front of mind for SME customers for some time now, as awareness of cyber-risks continues to rise. Proactive management of IT requirements is in many ways connected to this trend, as businesses of all sizes look to compliance requirements as well as asset protection and disaster recovery.”
Emerging technologies adoption
SMEs have long recognised the opportunities technology provides to foster growth and improve profit margins, so appetites for new and emerging technologies are strong. The top five technologies financial SMEs plan to adopt are:
- AI 59%
- Voice 59%
- 5G 53%
- Unified Communications 53%
- Internet of Things 35%
Enabling easier collaboration with customers and partners was the main reason for the adoption of new technology 59% – ahead of increasing efficiency, productivity and profitability at 47%.
Paul Colwell, technical director, OGL Computer and its cyber division, CyberGuard Technologies, commented: “Whether deploying innovative technologies to protect a business, communicate better with customers or improve productivity, our research reveals that SMEs are thinking ahead. They are ready to test new products and services and are increasing their IT and security budgets to benefit from emerging technologies that will change the way we work.”
Building a remote workforce can slash overheads, increase productivity, and improve employee efficiency, as well as boosting employee job satisfaction levels. This, in turn, can translate into better customer experience and increased profits.
- 94% of SMEs are seeing a growth in the number of remote workers employed
- With 50% of the financial sector respondents are currently using technology and 34% planning to adopt technology that enables remote working.