Adobe Digital Dialogue

Small businesses increase technology spending to take on bigger rivals

As con­sumers seek out more com­pelling cus­tomer expe­ri­ences, SMBs are real­is­ing that they need to be more like big busi­ness­es when it comes to tech­nol­o­gy invest­ment.

It is often said that small and medi­um busi­ness (SMB) lead­ers are too busy run­ning their busi­ness to think strate­gi­cal­ly, but a report on tech­nol­o­gy bud­get out­looks reveals SMBs are now approach­ing tech­nol­o­gy strate­gi­cal­ly, much like their much big­ger com­peti­tors. And the rea­son can be explained in two words: cus­tomer expe­ri­ence.

Suc­cess­ful SMBs have always under­stood the impor­tance of cus­tomer ser­vice, and in many instances have out­shone their mega-com­peti­tors – indeed, that has been their com­pet­i­tive edge. But the dig­i­tal mar­ket­place has changed the rules of cus­tomer engage­ment.

A For­rester report on SMBs and tech­nol­o­gy spend­ing con­firms that they are broad­en­ing their tra­di­tion­al focus on cus­tomer sup­port and are start­ing to pro­vide the com­pre­hen­sive cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (CX) that con­sumers now expect and demand. New mar­ket entrants, start-up dig­i­tal dis­rup­tors with a sin­gu­lar focus on per­son­al­i­sa­tion and CX have cre­at­ed new ser­vice bench­marks.

Alert and agile big busi­ness­es have respond­ed to the chal­lenge with heavy invest­ments in inno­va­tion, new ser­vice mod­els and enabling tech­nol­o­gy, while SMBs, which have typ­i­cal­ly been finan­cial­ly con­ser­v­a­tive and slow to adopt new tech­nolo­gies, are adjust­ing their mind­sets to the dig­i­tal mar­ket­place.

“SMB behav­iour is becom­ing increas­ing­ly sim­i­lar to that of larg­er enter­pris­es in both their busi­ness pri­or­i­ties and their adop­tion and util­i­sa­tion of tech­nol­o­gy,” For­rester states.

Greater focus on customer priorities

Improv­ing their cus­tomers’ expe­ri­ence is now front of mind for SMBs, who have always been sen­si­tive to the cost of doing busi­ness. This is borne out in Forrester’s find­ings – when asked about their top pri­or­i­ties over the next 12 months, 36 per cent nom­i­nat­ed grow­ing rev­enue ahead of reduc­ing costs (29 per cent). Telling­ly, the next most urgent pri­or­i­ties were improv­ing CX (27 per cent), improv­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices (23 per cent) and address­ing ris­ing cus­tomer expec­ta­tions (22 per cent).

These busi­ness pri­or­i­ties are dri­ving SMB invest­ment in tech­nol­o­gy. “SMBs are becom­ing more active in both new tech­nol­o­gy adop­tion and accel­er­a­tion of their refresh cycles. Just as sim­i­lar pri­or­i­ties guide SMBs’ and [big busi­ness] invest­ments and focus, SMBs’ tech­nol­o­gy invest­ment pat­terns map close­ly to those of [large] enter­pris­es.”

A strategic focus on IT spending

Accord­ing to the report, 82% of SMB tech­nol­o­gy bud­get deci­sion-mak­ers expect to main­tain or increase their IT spend­ing in 2017. Plans to spend more on tech­nol­o­gy are also matched by a strate­gic focus on where that invest­ment should occur.

Alert to tech­nol­o­gy trends, SMBs plan to increase their use of both soft­ware-as-a-ser­vice (SaaS) and host­ing to access the lat­est CX tech­nolo­gies. SMBs that have already imple­ment­ed cus­tomer-focused soft­ware solu­tions are eval­u­at­ing new options.

For­rester believes SMBs have become “high­ly attuned to the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence val­ue propo­si­tion”, which means big invest­ments to replace old­er cus­tomer ser­vice tech­nolo­gies.

Dig­i­tal and omnichan­nel con­sumers don’t care about the size of your busi­ness when it comes to find­ing the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. For SMB deci­sion-mak­ers, that means adopt­ing a big busi­ness mind­set toward tech­nol­o­gy in order to com­pete and Forrester’s research shows SMBs are up for the chal­lenge.

“SMBs are look­ing and behav­ing increas­ing­ly like [large] enter­pris­es in terms of busi­ness dri­vers, tech­nol­o­gy invest­ment pat­terns and tech­nol­o­gy util­i­sa­tion,” the report con­cludes.

“SMBs are now quick­er than [large] enter­pris­es to pull the trig­ger on replac­ing tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions that aren’t meet­ing theirs or their cus­tomers’ needs.”

It seems small busi­ness has grown up at last.

Creative Business

Join the discussion