Africa Studio -

Adobe shines light on SME employee tech frustration

Channel has a role to play in helping customers improve productivity through the adoption of more digital technology

Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers are still playing “digital catch-up”, and need the channel to help them improve their technology or risk alienating staff who become frustrated with the IT on offer.

Research from Adobe has shown the pressure to deliver hybrid working has exposed the weak position of many SMEs on the technology front.

The vendor’s The future of digital work report found that being more productive was an ambition for small businesses, but many were hindered by legacy IT and antiquated processes.

A substantial number of those quizzed by Adobe (85%) viewed technology as playing a critical role in helping them work faster and smarter. But a similar number (88%) admitted poor IT was limiting their ability to deliver that outcome.

An example of the antiquated practices still being carried out included the revelation from the Adobe research that 55% of SMEs were still using paper for at least half of the company’s work processes. The result is wasting time, with slightly more than half of the respondents calculating that they lost between two and four hours a day in productivity.

More concerning was that there were also serious consequences on staffing attitudes, with morale being hit by the experience of using poor technology. A fifth of SME workers indicated they would be prepared to walk over the issue.

Given the SME customer base is the target for most channel businesses, there is a clear opportunity for partners to remedy the situation.

A role for partners to play

Claire Darley, senior vice-president of worldwide field sales, customer support and digital media at Adobe, said there was a clear role for partners to play.

“Because the channel offers all sorts of hardware, software and services, they are seen as impartial, trusted advisors to small businesses,” she said. “Our research reports that small businesses are still playing ‘digital catch-up’, so the channel can help their small business customers invest in the right technologies to be more efficient, productive, and produce impactful work.”

The positives from the Adobe research were twofold: first, there were clear indications that employees at SMEs were trying to remedy the situation and prepared to recommend products and services to their bosses. Second, automation and AI had already been identified as technologies that would make a positive difference.

Some of the other areas where SMEs felt they needed to invest included collaboration and video conferencing tools.

From a hardware perspective, SMEs still favour laptops and desktops over mobiles.

“Small business leaders today are simultaneously playing roles in operations, finance, sales and customer engagement, while managing the stressors outside of their work,” said Darley. “They’re doing all of this without enough resources to get the job done – chief among those are technology [resources].

“Small businesses have a clear and present opportunity to make sure technology helps their employees and businesses grow, not get in the way,” she added.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)