Digital solutions are a hot topic with small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Results from a survey released in September show that – despite a continuing pandemic, labor shortages, and supply chain challenges – optimism among US small and medium sized business owners is increasing. In turn, this is leading to a growing appetite for technology solutions to help them scale their businesses.
According to Verizon Business’ third annual Small Business Recovery Survey, 53% of the 600 small and medium business surveyed (with 1-500 employees) indicated that the overall state of their business was better in August 2021 than in August 2020. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of these businesses expect to be better off one year from now.
Still, survey respondents cited numerous challenges that require new digital solutions:
- Sixty-three percent (63%) of SMB respondents reported they have implemented digital tools and technologies to enhance customer experiences and create new business opportunities, up from 53% a year earlier.
- Fifty-two percent (52%) purchased or upgraded their high-capacity internet services since the onset of Covid-19, nearly double compared to the 27% that had done so in August 2020.
- Forty-six percent (46%) reported using secure cloud backup services in August 2021, also nearly double from 26% a year earlier.
- Thirty percent (30%) are using technology to compensate for labor shortages.
Supply chain disruptions, not surprisingly, have continued to pose challenges for many SMBs. Fifty-six percent (56%) of respondents indicated they have experienced difficulty sourcing materials due to supply chain interruptions, up from 47% in August 2020.
However, SMBs have looked to digital solutions to address these challenges – including adding or transitioning to online operations (40%, up from 32%), implementing new technology to enable remote collaboration (38%, up from 32%), and notably, investing in new systems or technology to ensure security (38%, up from 31%).
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Despite arguably being forced to accelerate digital transformation plans due to the pandemic, many respondents indicated those plans are paying off. Approximately 40% indicated that revenue from online channels is higher now than prior to the pandemic, while 42% said that the level of flexibility and adaptability among employees is on the rise. That should put these companies in a stronger position once the pandemic is finally in the rearview mirror.