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Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are the cornerstone of every community. With an estimated 400 million SMBs operating worldwide, they account for 99% of global organizations. SMBs are the main source of job creation, making up between 60%-85% of employment.   And according to the International Labor Organization, by some estimates, SMBs contribute up to 70% of GDP.
With that kind of scale and impact, SMBs need the ability to innovate to be successful and thrive in a digitally enabled economy.
During the pandemic, we saw that businesses able to accelerate their digital transformation fared better than those that did not. Many reported growth through their focus on tech intensity.
Under such unprecedented circumstances, Microsoft was curious to learn how SMBs view the current realities of their businesses, to understand their goals and priorities, and to assess whether technology is seen as a catalyst to future success.
Analysys Mason was commissioned to conduct research with over 3,000 SMBs from 10 different areas of the world, representing the global footprint of SMBs.
Today, we are releasing our findings with the Microsoft SMB Voice and Attitudes to Technology Study 2022.
Digital technology adoption contributes to faster growth
The study confirms that nearly 70% of businesses consider growth as their primary driver, and technology “early adopters” saw faster and higher growth. Businesses identified as early adopters are twice as likely to have achieved their past business objectives plus higher revenue growth over the past year and are also four times more likely to be highly confident in their future business success. Today, businesses are focusing on sustaining growth despite geopolitical uncertainty, high inflation and energy prices. For 51% of businesses, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 remains a concern.
Security and reliability form the foundation
Eighty percent of businesses expect to have a hybrid workforce for at least the next two years and require the technology to support their business goals in a reliable and secure way.
Partners help drive strategy and SMB growth
While the majority of SMBs recognize the importance of technology in reaching business goals, 16% see it as essential. However, many SMBs need partners to map the right technology to their business strategy. Almost half choose technology partners, with 33% favoring Managed Service Providers or Cloud Solution Providers whom they expect to proactively recommend technology solutions to accelerate companies’ business goals.
The millennial factor
Millennials hold 41% of technology decision-making roles. They tend to work for newer companies and 13% are more likely to see technology as important or essential to business success. Nearly one-third of millennials identify as technophiles in their personal lives, carrying some of their consumer traits into how they research and purchase technology, placing high value on peer ratings and reviews when making purchasing decisions. In 2016, Gallup flagged that millennials favor purpose over paycheck in their How Millennials Work and Live report. Millennials as business owners apply those values to their business and technology priorities.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals – no longer just for the enterprise
Two-thirds of SMBs in the study report having ESG assessment and monitoring frameworks in place. Millennials are leading the way, being the most likely to have an annual report dedicated to their ESG progress. In terms of focus areas, 37% cited lowering their environmental impact, 30% wanted to improve their diversity and inclusion, while 30% were focused on job creation. The study points to a link between an ESG focus and attainment of business objectives – with both these traits being most prevalent among early adopters.
Ninety-nine percent of the world’s businesses are actively seeking solutions to address current challenges and generate new opportunities. This community impacts economies worldwide and the livelihoods of billions. They do this not to just be resilient and survive, but to thrive and bring innovation to their industries and value to their customers. Microsoft continues to listen to and learn from our SMB customers, aligning to what is their top of mind.
Together, the possibilities are endless, and opportunity abounds for all.