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MYOB Tech report: SMEs embrace tech to futureproof operations

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The far-reaching implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have already changed the way New Zealand businesses operate and according to a new report from MYOB, the experience will significantly increase their use of technology.

Released this week, the MYOB Tech Report highlights that local businesses are now making some major changes to futureproof their operations. Allowing employees to use flexible hours (55%), developing continuity planning (56%), using new technology (55%) and buying from local rather than international businesses (55%) are among the key changes local SMEs are now considering.

The use of technology has also prompted significant changes in the way businesses plan to work, with 49% allowing staff to work from home at least part of the week, 30% considering reducing or closing physical premises to focus on online sales, and 25% planning to introduce more automation or technology to reduce dependence on human workers.

MYOB New Zealand Country Manager, Ingrid Cronin-Knight, says New Zealand businesses have been through an extraordinary transformation which is likely to reshape the economy for years to come.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses and their employees to change the way they work and as a result, many are now reassessing their operations," explains Ingrid.

"Because technology has enabled businesses to do things differently - some much more so than before - many SME operators are now more open to reimagining how they plan to work in the future."

Technology driving increased performance

However, it isn’t just the restrictions and disruptions that businesses faced during the initial response to pandemic that are driving these decisions.

"Our insights suggest that many businesses saw real improvements as a result of the changes they made through the use of technology, such as video calling, cloud applications, instant messaging and even setting up an e-commerce site. Now, they’re looking to lock these benefits in for the future with a focus on driving positive business outcomes like improved productivity and boosting staff or customer engagement," explains Ingrid.

Top five reasons SMEs are more likely to look at new opportunities to use technology:

1. To increase productivity (68%)

2. To ensure their business is more efficient (65%)

3. To allow staff to work remotely if necessary (44%)

4. To ensure they can communicate with staff (37%)

5. To ensure they can communicate with customers (36%)

How technology has changed business over the last five years

When it comes to looking back at the impact technology has had for New Zealand SMEs over the past five years, SME operators have witnessed a range of changes to the way they do business as a result of increasing their use of technology.

From physical reminders of a changing workspace, such as the reduction in the use of paper records (40%), to improved productivity and efficiency (36%), to creating a better environmental footprint (25%) - many aspects of the working environment have shifted since 2015 as a result of a greater use of technology.

Among the leading tech trends that SME decision-makers say are driving the changes in their workplaces are the move to virtual rather than physical meetings (39%), the increasing use of mobile devices over desktop PCs (34%) and the adoption of cloud computing (32%).

Expected changes over the next five years

Over the next five years, many of these trends will become even more prevalent amongst SMEs, as other, more-advanced technologies begin to have an impact on the smaller business sector.

The top five technologies SMEs expect will change their industry over the next five years:

1. Cloud computing (38%)

2. Improvements in connectivity (34%)

3. Big data (21%)

4. Automation and robotics / 3D printing (17%)

5. Artificial Intelligence (16%)

"We’re on the cusp of real transformation in the way SMEs do business," explains Ingrid.

"While it has been driven by necessity, the dynamism of our SMEs and the eagerness of local business operators to be responsive to change and ready to explore new innovations should create real advantages for the SME sector and the wider economy, in the future."

To download the Tech Report, visit the MYOB media centre >  https://www.myob.com/content/dam/public-website/docs/misc/tech-week-2020-report.pdf. 

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