Research reveals the big tech trends for UK SME IT decision-makers in 2020

A new research report reveals how technology decision makers at UK SMEs are prioritising cyber security to ensure business continuity and growth

IT services provider OGL Computer has revealed the top technology concerns and priorities for UK SMEs in its new report: The State of Technology at UK SMEs.

The report also highlights newer technologies such as robotics and AI that SMEs plan to adopt, how SMEs are using technology to power remote workforces and what technologies they are adopting for growth.

Surveying technology decision makers

To develop the report OGL Computer surveyed technology decision makers in SMEs with 50-500 employees across a range of industries and conducted in-depth interviews with leaders in SMEs to identify their top priorities and concerns for 2020.

Paul Colwell, Technical Director, OGL Computer and its cyber division CyberGuard Technologies, comments: “The inaugural State of Technology at UK SMEs report reveals that IT decision-makers at SMEs have clear strategies for the future, and understand the opportunities and challenges that face their verticals in 2020.

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“These range from the perennial, such as the ever-present threat of serious cyber-attack or data breach to effectively managing the increasing amount of data flowing through the organisation. In addition, moving to the cloud securely and an ongoing lack of technology-savvy workers emerged as key themes.

“Handling these challenges, all with a fraction of the resources of their larger, corporate counterparts requires flexibility and demonstrates the resilience that gives SMEs the power to succeed. As we head into a new decade where the only constant is likely to be change, it is heartening to learn through our survey that SMEs continue to adopt innovative products and services.”

The survey established the technology priorities and concerns SMEs are expecting in 2020:

· The top three key technology priorities: increasing cyber security provision 39%, moving towards a more proactive IT strategy 39%, and increasing use of data and insights 37%

· The main technology concerns for 2020 were cyber security attacks 67%, data management 56%, and a lack of technology-savvy workers 54%

· 57% of respondents said that increasing the use of cloud computing is planned, to drive business efficiencies and profitability

· 92% of SMEs are planning to spend more on cyber security and IT in 2020.

Cyber security trends

Cyber security features heavily in the report with respondents revealing attack frequency, cyber strategy status and employee training to combat hackers.

· The vast majority of SMEs confirmed that they were increasingly worried, with 81% more fearful of a cyber-attack or data breach

· 81% of UK SMEs confirmed that they had suffered a data breach or cyber-attack

· Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) IT decision-makers surveyed have no cyber strategy in place

· 76% agree that they are nervous about moving from an on-premise IT infrastructure to a cloud infrastructure due to fears of data security

· 98% of IT decision-makers in SMEs educate employees about how to identify a cyber threat, with the most popular approach being a combination of external and internal training (32%)

· SMEs in the financial sector were more likely to suffer 3 or 4 breaches than any other sector at 50%, while healthcare and IT & Telecoms sectors were most likely to suffer 2 breaches at 75%.

Colin Dennis, Head of Technical Operations, OGL Computer says: “Cyber security has been front of mind for SME customers for some time now, as awareness of cyber-risks continues to rise. Proactive management of IT requirements is in many ways connected to this trend, as businesses of all sizes look to compliance requirements as well as asset protection and disaster recovery.”

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Emerging technologies adoption

SMEs have long recognised the opportunities technology provides to foster growth and improve profit margins, so appetites for new and emerging technologies are strong. The top five technologies SMEs plan to adopt are:

· 5G 59%

· Robotics 55%

· Automation 39%

· AI 39%

· Blockchain 37%

Cyber security threats were the main reason for the adoption of new technology 51% – ahead of enabling easier communications with customers 40%.

Paul Colwell, Technical Director, OGL Computer and its cyber division, CyberGuard Technologies, comments: “Whether deploying innovative technologies to protect a business, communicate better with customers or improve productivity, our research reveals that SMEs are thinking ahead. They are ready to test new products and services and are increasing their IT and security budgets to benefit from emerging technologies that will change the way we work.”

Remote working

Building a remote workforce can slash overheads, increase productivity, and improve employee efficiency, as well as boosting employee job satisfaction levels. This, in turn, can translate into better customer experience and increased profits.

· 94% of SMEs are seeing a growth in the number of remote workers employed

· With 50% of the respondents currently using technology and 34% planning to adopt technology that enables remote working.

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