Small to medium enterprises know about the benefits of technology but are deliberately slow to adopt it, according to research published last week by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
ACMA conducted over 30 SME focus groups and found a “strong sense” from SMEs of a lack of urgency to change.
The research found that if things are going pretty well, SMEs don’t want to waste money or resources on things they can’t be sure will work.
As a result, rather than simply delaying adoption or engagement due to lack of knowledge and information, SMEs are sometimes deliberately choosing to be late adopters.
The SMEs surveyed indicated they like to make sure a solution’s success factors are proven and whilst they wait, the cost to adopt decreases.
“We might be interested in trying technologies out, but we let it get tried and tested first,” one small business owner told the ACMA researchers.
Hugh Clapin, manager of ACMA’s research and reporting function, told SmartCompany slow uptake of technology in the SME community was a result of information overload.
“There’s a big trust and confidence issue: who do they trust and what service should they trust,” he says.
“It is not easy for them to be confident about a particular service or technology they want to adopt.”
The ACMA researchers found in most businesses there is one key individual and what they say goes.
“The other thing people are saying is that they don’t want to be guinea pigs,” Clapin says.
“They want tried and trusted and something that is known to work.”
He says the usual small business barriers of time and resources are also at work.
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“A lot of SMEs are adopting technology when it is right for them and when it suits them.”
But Clapin says SMEs may be missing out on opportunities by being slow to adapt to technology.
ACMA has the following tips for SMEs looking at new technology:
1. Educate yourself: Talk to your peers and industry bodies, and research tech brands to find out what works best for you.
2. Consider the opportunity cost: If you decide not to adopt new technologies, make sure that’s not going to affect the sustainability or success of your business in the future.
3. Start off simple: Experimenting with apps and social media can be a good first step and can offer low-cost solutions as simple as social networking.
4. Manage social media risk: Online engagement can be a very powerful tool to build your business and customer base, but before you begin have a read of our seven tips to manage social media risk.
5. Stay safe online: Just because you’re a small company doesn’t mean there aren’t big risks—from hackers, scams, malware and phishing.
6. Remember that ignorance is no excuse: SMEs need to be aware of obligations such as privacy, spam and telemarketing restrictions.