Most companies in the South West are set to increase their investment in technology following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A survey carried out by Exeter-based IT support and tech strategy experts Timewade has revealed that nearly two thirds (63%) of companies have increased investment in the short term to deal with challenges including remote working, cyber security and protecting data, and 50% will continue to increase investment beyond the next 12 months.
The survey also reveals the technology and business challenges faced during the pandemic in the region.
With the switch to remote working for many organisations, access to equipment (55%), people’s home broadband connection (55%) and training staff on new technologies and processes (40%) were the biggest challenges.
And the biggest negative impact of the pandemic has been deterioration in business development and sales (45%), service delivery (45%) and customer services (30%).
Some 40% of companies admitted their IT did not cope well with many of the challenges in recent months. Encouragingly, 75% of firms have discovered new business opportunities.
Julian Wills, Managing Director of Timewade, said: “The survey reveals the vital role technology has played since Covid-19 emerged. When lockdown happened, businesses were forced to react quickly. Now most companies have realised they need to put robust measures in place around their cyber security and data.
“It’s encouraging because it has to be a priority. Putting measures in place alongside the big increase in remote working and cloud computing will give businesses the best chance of tackling the challenges ahead, whilst ensuring a resilient and secure approach.”
On the whole, business leaders say staff have adopted new technology and ways of working mostly ‘very well’ (55%), with 30% reporting ‘well’, and 15% ‘moderately well’.
Timewade carried out the regional survey as part of the ongoing Technology for Success initiative which provides free guidance to businesses on the best use of technology, with partners including Bishop Fleming, Stephens Scown LLP and Astley Media.
Dan Pritchard, Managing Director of partner Astley Media, said: “Using latest technologies to stay in touch with customers, clients and your teams is now a given and 79% of SMEs see these technologies as a priority going forward. It’s vital that companies adopt clear processes, have the right technology, support and training to achieve standout engagement with employees, customers and of course those potential new customers critical to achieving growth in 2021.”
The full report is available at: timewade.com/your-technology-for-success-report
With Government measures to tackle the pandemic in place for the foreseeable future, supporting remote working, boosting cyber security and increasing Cloud computing are seen as the technology priorities for businesses for the next 12 months.
Looking to the future, respondents said that they will use technology to increase efficiency and automation as they strive to improve productivity, reduce costs and boost profits.
Julian commented: “Lockdown has exposed the inefficiencies of some manual processes, and has provided a rare opportunity for business leaders to critique, improve and automate certain processes.
“Companies need an agile but focused technology strategy for their business that improves efficiencies, takes advantage of new opportunities and ensures seamless and secure working wherever people are based.”
The report includes the full details of the survey alongside insight from South West companies including Axminster Tools, Stephens Scown LLP, Bishop Fleming, Commissioning HR, Astley Media, Minerva Lifelong Learning and Insight 6.
Damion Norcombe, CIO, at Axminster Tools commented: “The lockdown and subsequent acceptance of working from home has helped the Board see that there are some real benefits of remote working, including efficiencies in staff productivity. It also helps overcome challenges of a limited local talent pool by enabling us to employ staff nationally.
“The rapid advancement of meeting technology during the pandemic has enabled cross-departmental teams to collaborate quickly and effectively. Though it is acknowledged that there are still times where face-to-face meetings are important, to support wellbeing and ‘idea generating’ ad-hoc meetings.”
Julian concludes: “These are uncertain times but it’s clear, improving the use of technology is essential for businesses in the South West to survive and thrive in the challenging times ahead.”
The Technology for Success initiative is free to join and includes resources and regular online group discussions. www.technologyforsuccess.co.uk for more information and a copy of the full survey report.