How European mid-sized business can achieve their digital ambitions
By David Mills, CEO, Ricoh Europe
Ricoh Europe, 02 February 2017 – Europe’s mid-market is defined by three things; ambition, hard work and confidence. Our research shows that they averaged an impressive growth rate of 16.5% last year. Compared to the total EU business growth rate of just 1.8%, the success of mid-sized businesses (MSBs) is remarkable.
What’s more, MSBs have rejected the stereotype of cautious, domestic businesses. These companies are aiming for significant growth. To increase their competitive strength, 40% plan an IPO in the near-future. Their ambitious plans also include increased M&A activity and cross border commerce. Despite these clearly defined aspirations it’s concerning that a 33% doubt they’ll achieve them. The changes brought on by revenue and staff growth pose a number of barriers for MSBs. These range from stifling regulations to financing difficulties. Forging new partnerships and embracing new cultures also concerned a quarter of those surveyed.
The barriers to growth are well known, and it’s interesting to see that MSBs seem to know how to make their ambitions a reality. Collectively they have identified key steps to staying competitive. MSB’s largely recognise they need to:
- Embrace digital tech to meet business goals (75%)
- Innovate existing processes by utilising digital tech (73%)
- Define a long term digital vision (71%)
It’s perhaps telling that 96% of MSBs in Europe have already invested in digital tech to advance their goals. But why are so many doubtful of their chance of success? It’s true that tech can yield high growth results. But it’s vitally important that the right tech is chosen to support these ambitions. This selection process is where MSBs can easily fall down. Indeed, 24% claim difficulty sourcing the right tech is a major barrier to growth.
So what technology should ambitious MSBs invest in? Business growth is often characterised by rapid change and international expansion. These both require flexible working practices and a commitment to collaboration. On top of this, new tech has fundamentally reimagined the modern office. Remote working can be more productive than ever before. For example, interactive whiteboards help people collaborate efficiently as their business grows, because these technologies connect teams in functional and immediate ways both to each other and to their digital infrastructure.
At the same time, a growing business will inevitably encounter a rising burden of increased processes. New suppliers and customers mean growth but also more paperwork and admin. Expanding legacy systems can lead to disparate and inefficient back office silos. Investing in software to digitise and distribute these processes allows for centralised management.
Company culture is often tied to working practices. MSBs’ growth is a testament to the strength of their culture. But continued growth is a challenging test against this backdrop. The role of digital tech is to help companies overcome these challenges. Investing in the right tech won’t just aid growth; it will set a business up for ongoing success long into the future.