While small businesses do appreciate the positive impact which digital maturity can have on profits, they are not as optimistic as enterprises (73 per cent v 81 per cent). In addition, twice as many small than large business leaders expect digital maturity to have no impact at all on their profits (23 per cent v 11 per cent). However, once small businesses begin to strategise the road to digital maturity throughout their entire business process (front end through to back end) they may develop a more positive outlook on how it will impact on profit.
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The need to reach digital maturity – where an organisation uses sophisticated tools to drive performance and demonstrates an on-going commitment to technology, technology-led initiatives and digitally managed processes – has never been greater. However, for small and large businesses alike, the journey to the pinnacle of digital working may not be as straightforward as they think.
In a study called ‘Digital maturity: The race to the summit’ conducted by Coleman Parkes Research and sponsored by Ricoh, 39 per cent of small business leaders say they are confident they can progress from a state of digital transformation to digital maturity within two years, compared with 25 per cent of large companies surveyed.
The online survey was conducted in July 2014 and consisted of 1,245 business decision makers from across eight vertical sectors, including education, legal, utilities/energy, healthcare, public sector, retail, manufacturing and financial services. Participating respondents were from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, the Nordics (Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark), Switzerland, Russia and the Middle East.
The majority of small businesses (70 per cent) within the financial services industry believe they are able to understand, deploy and benefit from new technology quicker than larger competitors. This confidence is perhaps due to their general agility, as well as their ability to adopt new ways of working faster than enterprise organisations. However, 67 per cent say they will need external help – either with all projects or in conjunction with their own internal team – to reach optimal digital maturity.