With economic uncertainty meaning flexibility is more important than ever, staying digitally fit can help you strengthen your business for the future. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that last year saw more Welsh SMEs turn to technology in a move to sustain and grow their businesses while questions over Brexit continue.
Which technologies companies embrace and how these allow them to be resilient is becoming ever more apparent if you follow Cardiff Business School Welsh Economy Research Unit’s Digital Maturity Survey. The project has run for the last three years and retrospectively looks at what is going on across the Welsh digital landscape year on year, and Cardiff University has just revealed the 2018 findings.
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The report illustrates how digital helps with the heavy lifting for business owners and staff alike by streamlining resources so firms can focus on growth. And increasingly the results are positive. Welsh businesses are more able to hire people, with twice as many SMEs reporting higher employment in 2018 than the previous year, and more than half of business using superfast broadband specifically increase their profits.
At a time when superfast broadband has become mainstream and Welsh firms are beginning to embed online tools at the heart of their business, it is fitting that Cardiff University hosted an event for experts, policymakers and businesses to explore how digital is being used in Wales, which included one of Superfast Business Wales’ success stories, Hazelwood Carpentry.
How digitally fit are you?
More Welsh SMEs than ever are using digital to sustain and grow their business, as firms from all sectors are seeing increasing evidence that moving online is beneficial.
Digital fitness in Wales is driven from the North and the South East inwards to the Mid and West, where almost half of businesses now employ inhouse specialists to help get them in shape. This reach goes beyond regions and into sectors, where there is a rise across the board in SMEs using online tools to manage specific parts of their business. For example, Allen & Partners, a veterinary practice in Carmarthenshire, has already saved huge amounts of time for staff by installing a practice management system designed specifically for vets.
Traditional sectors in Wales are now embracing digital to better manage their business, with construction SMEs showing the highest increase in digital adoption in 2018.
Construction firms in Wales have ramped up their use of digital in the last year, with the number of businesses using websites, social media and specialist systems (such as accounting and project management software) all increasing. Construction firms have also discovered how to use digital to drive sales, with more than half selling online last year, 64% more than in 2017.
NB: If you want to embed digital into your day-to-day processes, choosing the right software for your business is vital. Our Software Essentials directory can help you find business software you can rely on, whatever you need it for.
Four-in-five Welsh SMEs recognise the importance of digital in meeting customer requirements, with one-in-five already reaping the productivity benefits of CRM systems.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems give you the ability to convert ‘possible interest’ into repeat business through a managed sales cycle. By keeping track of customers, you can identify who to target and help grow your business. 20% of Welsh SMEs are already doing this, meaning there is a huge opportunity to get ahead of your competitors by turning your customer relationships digital. We run CRM workshops across Wales to help you make the most of a CRM system and keep your customers’ data safe.