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Is the tech revolution leaving British business behind? Almost half of SMEs think technological change is too costly

  • Only two in five businesses plan to invest in technology in the next three years
  • Entrepreneurs reliant on outdated tech, with more using filing cabinets than virtual assistants such as Alexa

The growth of the UK’s SME economy could be stalling as business owners hold themselves back from adopting new technologies, citing cost – with 45% saying they thought upgrading technology was beyond their current spending power.

The research, conducted by the 2018 International Business Festival, also found that for many entrepreneurs, old habits die hard with about as many business leaders saying they had used a filing cabinet (46%) as video conferencing systems (48%) or a hole punch (39%) as a voice activated assistant (36%).

The survey of 500 SME leaders also found less than half (40%) of small and medium-sized businesses plan to achieve business growth in the next three years by investing in technology, and just over a third will do so through new product and service development.

This is despite the overwhelming majority of SME leaders (83%) recognising that their business must change to meet future market demands.

Large numbers of entrepreneurs are already looking to the future, recognising the opportunities for business in areas like automation (42%), artificial intelligence (47%) and big data (55%) – but 42% felt that their companies would struggle to keep pace with the rapid advance of technology.

Max Steinberg, Chair of the 2018 International Business Festival, says: “As this research shows, many UK SME leaders clearly understand the value of new technologies, but see them as expensive and out of reach. It’s absolutely crucial to business growth that SME bosses embrace these innovations and the opportunities they present – and that’s where the International Business Festival has such an important role to play. Our future-facing programme, packed with influencers, innovators and industry leaders, will give entrepreneurs an easy-to-digest overview of how cutting-edge tech like Blockchain and autonomous vehicles could revolutionise their businesses.”