Businesses have never faced such complex political, economic, social and digital forces as they do today. For example:
- In the UK, Theresa May has formally announced the country’s intention to leave the European Union.
- Gartner predicts 20.8 billion connected devices in use by 2020.
- Organisations face a constant tide of new laws and regulation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to come into force next year.
In short, businesses of all sizes are being tasked with quickly getting to grips with a new reality. Ricoh Europe’s recently commissioned research report 'World of Change' shows that disruption is here to stay. But success in turbulent times depends on the ability to anticipate the long-term benefits of change.
In particular, the mid-market is acutely aware of today's wider economic, political and social pressures. The engine room of Europe’s economy, mid-sized businesses (MSBs) account for 75,000 companies across the continent and provide over 30% of all revenue.
Although MSBs are hugely ambitious, the vast majority report barriers preventing them from reaching their full potential. These include complex and costly regulation, difficulty in attracting top talent and in sourcing the right technology. As a result, the current uncertainty makes what seems like an already difficult path to growth almost impossible.
But are MSB leaders overlooking one of their best assets for growth: their people? Despite the changes happening around them, their employees are feeling extremely positive and settled in the roles. Only 8% expect to change job and just 12% believe they will have fewer career opportunities in 2017.
According to the research we commissioned, mid-market employees are confident that digital disruption will result in their company being in a stronger position by the end of 2017 than it is now. They are clearly up for the challenge and want to overcome the barriers standing in their way.
Setting employees up to meet these challenges starts with what technology they have at their disposal. In fact, 62% believe their business should do more to use new technology and processes. With that in mind, here are three areas business decision-makers should focus on.
1. Digital processes
Replacing traditional time-intensive paper-based workflows with digital solutions frees up employees to focus on adding greater value to the business and serving customers. For example, many smaller and medium-sized banks still send documents, such as mortgage and loan applications, around the organisation manually. Using paperless services, staff can quickly digitise important information and enter into electronic approval processes, with the added bonus of improved security and the ability to share with multiple colleagues at the same time.
2. Mobile working
Today’s increasingly mobile workforce wants to embrace the benefits flexible working creates. Cloud technology enables remote colleagues to easily collaborate in real time and securely share documents via a wide range of devices. Revamping technology doesn’t mean mobile working needs to be restricted to just outside the office. In the healthcare industry, digital solutions mean patient records can be captured from anywhere inside the hospital. This eliminates the need to manually type notes as staff use tablets to access data on the go.
Helping employees across the business to share ideas and develop them together is of great value in times of change. Collaboration increases employee productivity, fosters a cohesive culture and generates an innovative spirit. A simple place to start is with how employees communicate. High-performing visual communication services make it possible to save time and money that would otherwise be spent on travel and accommodation for meetings. These can include the full design and furnishing of a room and installation of visual communications equipment, providing an optimal space for employees to meet and collaborate.
In a world of change, no business can afford to stand still. This is especially true for ambitious MSBs, competing not only with larger enterprises but also innovative start-ups eager to take their share of the market. How leaders choose to empower their staff to do the best job possible has the potential to make or break a company. Using the latest relevant technology will set apart the winners from the losers; acting today is the only option.