79% of SMEs see automation as an opportunity

New research from leading business advisers and accountants Scott-Moncrieff shows that only one in five (21%) SMEs see advancements in technology as a threat, while 79% see automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an opportunity.

Despite on-going scare stories outlining how technology will become a threat to jobs, the new research also found that over half of SMEs (56%) view such advances in technology as a medium to long-term opportunity – and a further quarter (23%) see them as an immediate opportunity.

The survey analysed 653 responses from senior business leaders drawn from across all sectors throughout the UK. The research findings also include in-depth interviews with the leaders of SMEs to learn more about their experiences of 2017, their expectations for and concerns about 2018, and the strategies they aim to apply in their businesses.

Throughout the qualitative research, it was repeatedly found that SMEs believe that they could do more to become more efficient. In particular, one SME owner in the environmental sector, identifying an immediate opportunity from technology, commented: “Tech-enablement of our business systems is a huge opportunity for us to improve our service efficiency and margins. Good technology will give us a commercial advantage and help to keep our business safe from cybercrime.”

The research went on to reveal however that despite SMEs being open to technologies benefits, there is still some wariness of the impact of technological change: 18% of respondents saw technological advances as a medium to long-term threat, while 3% felt that technology posed an immediate threat to their business.

Gareth Magee, Partner at Scott-Moncrieff said: “It is great to see that a huge majority of SMEs are viewing advancements in technology as an opportunity – not a threat. Efficiency is high on the agenda for many SME owners, and with cloud and app based solutions becoming the norm, companies are now able to tackle many more of the tasks themselves because the software is so intuitive. This creates efficiencies for all involved and gives their advisers more space to add value.”

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