The Open University (OU) has jointly published a report with Be the Business called Skills for Success: supporting business leaders with digital adoption. The research involved surveying 1,500 business leaders of SMEs from across the UK that have needed to make drastic changes to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.
The report found that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of collaboration and e-commerce software in more than half (54%) of UK SMEs. Of the business leaders who adopted new technology,
at least 85 per cent plan to continue using it at the same level once restrictions are lifted.
However, as many as 30% of business leaders surveyed said time and cost can make digital adoption too expensive and time consuming.
Despite this, the report also found that even without dedicated resource, many small and medium-sized businesses have been flexible and resilient around digital skills and training, with 70% of business leaders expressing an interest in learning and development in the next 12 months.
Two thirds of business leaders (67%) also say they are confident in adopting technology, although only half (54%) think they make good purchasing decisions about technology.
One fifth (21%) of all business leaders don’t think adopting technology could have a positive impact on their business at all.
The Skills for Success report makes a number of key recommendations for business leaders looking to adopt technology successfully, including:
- Identifying the right digital tools to tackle a company’s biggest challenge
- Securing time and budget to enable an attitude of continuous learning
- Empowering SMEs to embrace a digital culture
- Recognising the power of a varied skillset in an organisation
Jane Dickinson, Digital Skills Lead at The Open University said:
“The pandemic has forced many business leaders to rapidly reassess how they do business and the role of technology. Digital skills are now front and centre to current thinking across all sectors as businesses look to successfully adopt digital technologies.
“If we are to make levelling up a success and assist SMEs in developing the skills they need, then it is essential that everyone plays their part.
“SMEs provide great environments for talented workers to fulfil their potential through lifelong learning. If business leaders can adopt a ‘grow your own’ approach, then it is a win-win-win for the employee, employer and the economy. But there are some barriers to overcome – not least the time and cost investment and our report reveals how SMEs can chart a path to grow the digital skills for the future.”
Anthony Impey, Chief Executive at Be the Business said:
“Great leadership combined with productivity enhancing technology is at the heart of our most successful businesses.
“But adopting new digital technology can be challenging, even for the most confident business leaders. That is why getting the right skills and training – focused on both digital and leadership capabilities, is essential.”
The Skills for Success report makes a number of key recommendations for business leaders looking to adopt technology successfully.