European SMEs are set to increase technology investment this year, despite the challenging economic climate. By partnering with the right IT services provider, this will drive efficiencies, improve processes, and reduce working overheads.
Small and medium enterprises across Europe have had to endure multiple ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences in recent years. Whether caused by global pandemic, global supply chain issues, or more recent economic pressures related to war, the idea of ‘business as usual’ has taken on a different meaning for every organisation.
However, in the brand new Sharp survey which surveyed 5,770 IT decision makers and people who are responsible for purchasing IT within SMEs across 11 European markets on their top business and technology challenges and IT investment priorities for the next 12 months, we found that while the economic trading environment may be difficult, some 45% of enterprises questioned are planning to invest more than last year, with only 10% reducing investment.
What’s more, over half of SMEs revealed they plan to spend more than £20,000, with 4% planning to invest over £100,000 in IT this year. By investing wisely and targeting growth, such enterprises will be able to overcome common challenges and barriers.
Cloud Migration and Hardware Upgrades
SMEs across Europe are increasingly seeing the benefits of moving many of their operations to the cloud. This migration allows for greater flexibility within the enterprise by enabling the streamlining of processes, as well as the automation of more laborious tasks, while offering definable cost savings.
As a result, we found that 31% of small and medium enterprises will prioritise migrating services to the cloud this year. The key challenge for firms will be to ensure they work with a trusted and experienced IT Services provider that will not only help align their infrastructure with cloud services, but also implement enhanced security and deploy IT resources.
Our survey found that while cloud migration is a growth area, 97% of SMEs across Europe have planned to make IT changes this year, and over a third are planning to invest in new hardware within their pre-existing infrastructures. Typically, this means that 32% of SMEs plan to focus on upgrading or replacing servers within their own setups.
Renewing hardware isn’t just about delivering faster performance, it can offer improved reliability, while greater capacity can deliver better efficiency, resulting in reduced overall costs. Whatever the route to a more effective business, SMEs are open to making the most of technology.
Business Concerns Around Security
It will come as little surprise that IT security continues to be seen as the biggest technology challenge facing European enterprises over the next 12 months. This can come in many forms, from the network where most attacks occur, to endpoint, cloud, or even Multifunction Printer security. All data points within an organisation should be protected, maintained and routinely updated.
Delivering IT security is often not possible within some SMEs as they may not have a dedicated IT manager, whether internal or as part of an external IT Service provider. This notion was reinforced by our survey with only 52% of SMEs across Europe having access to such services. What’s more, 10% admitted that nobody specifically had an IT role within the company. This opens SMEs up to multiple threats, not only on a security level but also from not fully maximising the most of their current technology, as well as risking falling behind competitors.
Encouragingly, SMEs across Europe are aware of the issues, with our survey finding that four in ten will be investing in improving IT security this year.
Making IT Work for SMEs
In terms of other business challenges, 32% of respondents cited rising supply costs, and the cost-of-living crisis in general, as their top challenges over the next 12 months. Recent macro-economic conditions have driven the cost of investing in technology higher, there is simply no getting away from that fact. However, it is vital to not just see IT investment as a cost, but to see it as a business enabler and contributor to a larger and more profitable enterprise.
Technology can help overcome these challenges, putting in place infrastructure and workplace processes that allow for smarter working experiences, thereby allowing employees and customers, no matter where they choose to work from, greater access to the business.
Just as an SME may not have an internal lawyer, or professional HR staff, they need to align themselves with external experts who have a wide range of skills and talent. Therefore, to best tap into new way of working with technology, SMEs need to work with, and be supported by, IT service providers that understand how first-class IT helps protect, support and grow a business, regardless of size.
At Sharp IT Services we spend a great deal of our time helping SMEs define what it is they are looking to achieve, and the outcomes they expect from their investment. Sharp offers a wide portfolio of IT support services, including IT security, infrastructure deployment and support across Europe. For a greater insight of the tech trends enabling growth across Europe, or how Sharp IT Services are helping SMEs overcome tech challenges, download our free white paper.