Two in three small business owners (67%) say technology is having a positive impact on their business and – 18-months on from Covid restrictions falling away - almost one in four small business owners (23%) say they are still using technology to help staff members to work from home.
Compared to two years ago, a time when the country was in the midst of Covid lockdown, it is little surprise that the overall percentage of enterprises lauding the positive impact technology has fallen slightly from 76% to 67%. That said, many of the specific cited benefits of technology remain as important to business owners today - suggesting the adoption of technology during the lockdown years has had a lasting impact on how small businesses manage greater productivity, lower costs and improve efficiency.
Top 10 business benefits of technology: A two-year comparison
Cuts down on travel time – to/from work/meetings
Helps staff with remote working
Ability to provide a faster service
Drives greater productivity
Makes us more environmentally friendly
Reduces office overheads
Reduces the cost of doing new business
Spend less time in meetings
Safer storage of sensitive information
Opens up new markets
Novuna’s annual tracking of the adoption and perceived benefits of technology is significant because its research reveals that small business growth prospects correlate with fully embracing tech innovation. Nationally, small businesses that forecast strong growth were twice as likely to fully utilise technology than they were to be struggling with tech modernisation (37% Vs. 19%).
The three industry sectors where the benefits of technology are most profound
The Business Barometer study from Novuna Business Finance has tracked small business sentiment since 2015. The latest poll of 1,103 small business owners pin-pointed three industry sectors where small business owners were most likely to say that technology had brought lasting benefits to the way they plan, operate and grow.
- Media and marketing - 82%
- Manufacturing - 74%
- Construction - 62%
Whilst nationally, these three areas stand out as being the most tech savvy, the way that technology has helped businesses varies sector by sector.
Small business owners in the manufacturing sector were most likely to focus on how technology made their business more competitive. Nationally, 36% of small businesses in this sector said technology had driven greater productivity and 31% said they were now able to provide a faster service.
Media and marketing
For business owners that embraced technology in this sector, the biggest business benefits of technology were operational, relating on how staff worked together. Overall, 52% of respondents in the media and marketing sector celebrated the fact that technology cut down the amount of time colleagues spent in meetings (52%) - and 43% said technology supported staff members that wanted to work from home.
At a time when this sector faces challenging times – with UK construction companies reportedly going under at the fastest rate in a decade- the perceived business benefits of technology here related to efficiency and cost-cutting. Whilst 41% of business owners said technology helped them to provide a faster service, 32% commented on the efficiency in the way they could store sensitive information. In addition, 26% of business owners in construction said technology helped them to reduce staff costs and to reduce overheads (32%).
We all remember the lockdown era when technology kept us going – whether it be banking online, talking to loved ones over the Internet or working from home. The same is true of small businesses – across the country, those that could stay open relied on technology to adapt, communicate and trade.
What is noteworthy from our new research is that, two years on, the legacy of this era continues. Business owners have maintained the tech habits adopted during lockdown and the perceived benefits of technology endure, little changed since 2021. We ourselves have accelerated our business transformation journey since lockdown. For example, Novuna Business Finance’s new end-to-end automated invoice processing has eliminated manual invoice processing techniques, resulting in a faster, more efficient service - and enabling the business to bolster its reputation among small businesses for exceptional service. For businesses big and small, technology is a game-changer – not just in what it enables, but in terms of the tangible benefits to productivity, people and the bottom line. As our research reminds us, small businesses that predict growth are far more likely to be tech savvy and at Novuna Business Finance, we want to support small businesses on that journey.
Head of Insight
Novuna Business Finance
Note to editors
The research was conducted by YouGov among a representative sample of 1,103 small business decision makers in July 2023, spanning all key industry sectors.