Future of small and medium sized businesses
In this SMB edition of the future of enterprises report, we study not only how digitalization and dematerialization has had an impact on small- and medium sized businesses (SMBs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also how it stand to change SMB’s in the coming decade.
SMBs and the pandemic
01. Digitalization and dematerialization could hold the key to higher profitability and improved sustainability for SMBs
Almost 7 in 10 SMBs have already reached halfway or beyond in their dematerialization-through-digitalization journey, being able to create more using fewer resources. The future will see more SMBs leverage cloud and mobile technology, enabling them to become more adaptable.
02. By 2030 close to 60 percent of SMB white-collar work is expected to happen outside company premises
The pandemic is already having a profound effect on speeding up this process, making it critical that SMBs provide their employees with full access to processes and tools regardless of what device they use, or from where they are working. There will be no office at all by 2030, according to 44 percent of SMB decision-makers.
03. In the next decade, SMB usage of 5G is expected to grow by more than 50 percent, and extended reality (XR) usage to more than double
More than 5 in 10 SMBs expect to use 5G devices, and almost as many will use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices, by 2030. Increased mobile immersive video technology usage regardless of location is expected to further drive the need for secure, high-speed, low-latency cellular connectivity.
04. The gig economy comes to the office
A shift towards task-based organizations is set to emerge, with more than 5 in 10 SMB white-collar decision-makers believing temporary employment will significantly increase within their companies by 2030. However, 39 percent of SMB white-collar employees fear this could make life more difficult.
05. Despite worldwide trade conflicts, SMBs continue to grow internationally
While roughly half of all SMB decision-makers agree future trade conflicts and pandemics will be barriers to international growth, more than 6 in 10 SMBs expect to have a significant international customer base by 2030 and almost 6 in 10 agree that hiring employees globally will be key.
06. Almost three in four SMBs expect their electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030
The switch to renewable energy is a key component in the journey towards a net-zero business. Seventy-seven percent of SMB decision-makers expect to make significant energy savings through the move towards cloud solutions.
SMB dematerialization frontrunners leading the way
In this report, we have defined the SMB dematerialization front-runners as the top one-third of the surveyed SMBs that have reported the most progress in their ICT-enabled dematerialization efforts.
The graph shows how they rank their organizations on various factors today, highlighting those front-runners leading the way. It may not be surprising that these front-runners are more environmentally sustainable than other SMBs, but they also show higher profitability, are better at innovating and are more agile when it comes to responding to a changing world. In fact, the surveyed SMB decision-makers agree that businesses capable of adapting to the evolving needs of customers will be the norm by 2030.
Remote working is here to stay
The views of SMB decision-makers and SMB white-collar employees alike have shifted due to their experiences of working remotely. More than 5 in 10 SMB employees agree their respective companies have become more positive about remote working during the pandemic and they believe these habits are here to stay. In fact, they expect that almost 60 percent of their work will happen outside company premises by 2030.