While the World Economic Forum (WEF) found SMBs lag in technological adoption, our recent research suggests just the opposite. But why do we hold this stance? And where do our conclusions align with WEF’s? Let’s explore some of the key findings.

We found that SMBs are positioned to be more progressive. Unlike larger enterprises that are still struggling with digital transformation, SMBs are already running as digital businesses. Our research found that 85% of SMBs recognize the importance of technology relating to the success of their businesses. Many SMBs suffered financial hits during the pandemic, but went through a significant period of digital transformation, using digital sales channels to ride out economic turbulence. 

Critically, what sets SMBs apart is that they already make the connection between technology, business resiliency, and growth. In fact, findings from Verizon’s Small Business survey align with this conclusion. It found that SMBs continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently, grow and scale their businesses, and differentiate themselves from competitors. And 61% of SMBs have implemented digital tools to change processes and improve customer experiences.

WEFs’ latest report looked into the SME market and revealed that smaller companies were more resilient to COVID-19 disruptions than larger firms across all sectors. It also highlighted that technology is a major factor in enabling business resilience. These findings align with that of our own SMB report. And for these reasons, CSPs must build digital marketplaces that can help SMBs embrace new technologies such as 5G, AI, Edge or IoT through solutions that address their business needs.

The SMB opportunity for CSPs

Where the WEF report deduced that SMEs are reluctant to adopt technology, our research showed that SMBs are actually more sophisticated adopters of technology than many give them credit for. The discrepancy between the research likely comes from how WEF explored the challenges SMEs face in adopting technologies and how those technologies can be used to address their business problems. WEF rightly highlighted that their reluctance is driven by a lack of resources. We also referenced this in our report. 

SMBs face a common challenge in the management headaches caused by managing multiple technology providers. This limits what they are able to achieve with technology as they do not have the internal skills or resources to implement them properly and achieve the desired outcomes of efficiency, productivity, and customer experience improvements necessary for growth. 

SMBs are looking for a hero who can step up to the plate and find creative ways to serve their technology needs. They want solutions that address specific business challenges from partners that understand their vertical industry context. 

Historically, why have CSPs not targeted more mid-sized enterprises? 

CSPs haven’t taken the time to reacquaint themselves with today’s digital-native SMBs. They don’t understand their business priorities, nor do they focus on developing technology solutions to address their vertical industry contexts. SMBs have typically been perceived more like consumers and offers tend to orientate around devices and connectivity. That may have been appropriate in the past, but this is no longer the case. 

CSPs’ sights are also set on large enterprise contracts for 5G, Cloud and Edge, but the SMB market is just as lucrative. While we don’t have an estimate for mid-sized enterprises specifically, Analysys Mason go as far as to estimate the global market value of SMB technology solutions spend at roughly $1.42 trillion per annum. 

SMBs are ready to exploit the benefits of technology but it hasn’t always been plain sailing. The cost of solutions, a lack of internal skills and difficulty managing and integrating different systems are all key pain points for SMBs. 

CSPs can tap into this market by directly addressing SMB 'pain points’

Unlike enterprises, SMBs don’t have dedicated ICT teams, meaning that the responsibility of understanding and implementing technology falls to someone who does not have the time or skillset. On top of this, the growing number of technologies and solutions in the market coupled with gaps in off-the-shelf products, leaves SMBs feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. This is where CSPs can capitalize on their expertise and experience. 

51% of SMBs rank technology as very-to-crucially important. And almost three-quarters of SMBs recognize the potential value of more nascent technologies including blockchain, AI/ML and Edge. They’ve even started to think about the potential use cases for 5G.  

However, for CSPs, it’s not as easy as simply bundling connectivity with cloud and security and expecting SMBs to figure it out. CSPs will need to adopt a new model and curate a single marketplace that serves all of their technology needs from one platform – allowing SMBs to focus on their business and growth. 

Download our full report here: SMB Report | Beyond Now or get in touch to learn more about the how our digital platforms can help you elevate your SMB offering.

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