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With inflation and higher taxation about to make dealing with the cost-of-living crisis even harder, tough times are certainly ahead for all UK businesses. But research from Virgin Media O2 Business has found that amid the rising cost of trading and economic uncertainty, the majority (65%) of business leaders from medium-sized UK companies say technology is the biggest driver of growth.
Censuswide surveyed, on behalf of the leading UK fixed and mobile provider, 1,000 UK business decision-makers working in medium-sized businesses – defined as those employing between 11 and 249 staff – across a variety of private sector industries.
The Medium businesses: Fuelling the UK’s economic engine study found tech brings a range of both “hard” and “soft” employee benefits – including enhanced productivity, collaboration and morale. It revealed the role that technology and connectivity can play in helping medium-sized businesses adapt and grow during these tough financial times.
The report has been published just as medium businesses are increasingly putting into place their long-term hybrid working practices. The study found that, on average, employees at these firms now spend just a quarter (25%) of their time in offices, with seven in 10 businesses (70%) having more mobile connections than they did a year ago. In addition, almost nine in 10 (87%) business leaders said they had noticed an improvement in productivity when they had provided employees with new technology, while 77% believed it helped to boost morale.
More than a quarter (28%) of medium-sized business leaders believed the biggest benefit of technology was improved efficiency, while almost a quarter (23%) said its main benefit was boosting collaboration among teams.
Yet while the significant majority indicated the key part technology is set to play in their prosperity, and the clear benefits and overwhelming importance placed on IT and tech as the fuel for business growth, medium-sized business leaders admitted it was their biggest internal challenge. A third said their current IT setup impacted their bottom line, with it being a bigger barrier to success than other activities, such as their marketing capabilities. Almost half (48%) said they needed better IT support to realise their company’s ambitions, and a quarter (24%) said IT security was one of the biggest internal challenges they faced.
Commenting on the research findings, Catherine Amran, director of small and medium business (SMB) at Virgin Media O2 Business, said: “With around 250,000 medium businesses operating across the country, employing more than 7.5 million people and turning over around £1.4tn a year, they are a huge contributor to the UK’s growth – which is even more important during these uncertain economic times. That’s why it’s important medium businesses aren’t left behind and can make the most of tech to enhance their productivity, performance and prosperity.”