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Research shows lack of strategic approach to technology adoption among SMEs

Over half of manufacturers are not putting technology as part of their strategies for growth, new research by the Made Smarter North West Pilot shows.

The survey asked 201 small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) across the North West about their approaches to digital technologies. The research found that overall manufacturers had a lot of motivation to introduce new digital tools into their operations.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents claimed to have adopted new technology in the last three years, compared to 12% who have never made the investment.

However, the survey also highlighted a lack of a strategic approach to adopting technology. Over half (55%) of manufacturers admitted technology was not part of their future vision and growth plan, which was was highest among micro-businesses (60%).

More so, business leaders were more likely to upgrade existing technologies to maintain continuity rather than to improve productivity, the research found.

Made Smarter’s research suggests that too few are approaching the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a planned, strategic manner.

Barriers also remain in the adoption of technology with half of the respondents saying insufficient capital hinders their progress, and 44% stating a need for guidance. Many businesses also cited a lack of time as a reason why they hadn’t obtained business support or funding. 

Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter North West pilot, says the answer to a successful digital transformation is a holistic approach.

“What is clear from our survey is that manufacturers recognise that digital tools and technology are essential to remain competitive, cut costs, increase growth, and enhance the customer experience, and without capitalising on the opportunities digital technology offers, they risk getting left behind,” she said.

“But it is also clear that too many makers have employed technology without the technical understanding of which areas to focus on first – which leads to disparate, disconnected equipment, and increases the risk of wasted time, money and effort. Whilst digital tools enable opportunities, it’s how we choose to use these that determines their success.”

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