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SMEs Relied on New Technology and Fleet Digitalisation Through COVID, Study Reveals

New data collected by fleet tracking supplier, Vimcar, reveals that 81% of UK SMEs adapted their business in the last 12 months, with 41% embracing new technology.

Out of those who chose to digitalise through COVID, 1 out of 3 SMEs focused on digitalising their fleet allowing them to become more efficient (45%), save money (33%) and meet customer demands (36%).

Learning how to digitalise your fleet

In light of their recent findings, Vimcar will now offer a free webinar during the first week of July, to show other businesses easy ways to digitalise their fleets.

The webinar will centre around the three benefits of fleet digitalisation, as highlighted by SMEs: becoming more efficient, saving money and meeting customer demands.

What is fleet digitalisation?

Participants in the survey that did focus on fleet digitalisation identified fleet tracking and vehicle management software as the new technology they invested in.

Vehicle management software allows businesses to track fleets’ fuel usage and general compliance whilst fleet tracking allows companies to provide customers with ETAs, ensure that only the closest driver attends customer appointments and helps businesses respond instantly to last-minute jobs.

A combination of the two technologies can help companies run more efficiently, save money and improve customer service.

SMEs’ Road To Recovery

Less than a third (30%) of businesses are optimistic about business growth over the next 12 months, with only 16% of SMEs in the North East having an optimistic outlook. Future coronavirus restrictions and supply issues are sited the biggest worries.

That said, just as technology was important throughout COVID, 1 in 3 survey participants believe that digitalisation will be vital in overcoming the challenges ahead.

Specifically, 33% will look to invest in customer service tools, another 33% in fleet tracking and fleet management tools and 28% in e-commerce.

For the surveys main findings, take a look at the Infographic below:

When they adapted and the difference it has made

The data reveals that 45% of respondents made the most changes after the first lockdown, between June and August 2020, followed by over a third (34%) between September and December 2020.

94%* of SMES polled say the impact of technology on their business has been positive since March 2020. This has been particularly true for business owners 55 years old and above, with just under two-thirds (65%) of them confirming that being a more digitally driven business has improved the efficiency of their services.

And there does not seem to be any going back for these businesses: investment into the best technology is going to be an increasingly important way for companies to overcome challenges in the next 12 months. 39% of respondents confirmed that commitment, with the North West making the top spot with almost half of businesses in the region (48%) continuing to adopt tech to impact growth.

Ronald Clancy, UK Country Manager, Vimcar comments on the research: “2020 was a unique year that has changed the way businesses function forever. This data shows us just how resilient and adaptable UK SMEs have had to be to ensure the continuation of their businesses – how agile and innovative they have been, and how they turned to technology to enhance their businesses to ensure they weathered the storm.

This research reveals how SMEs took a hybrid approach – investing in technology and their people – and just how much SMEs were a part of the digital shift that occurred during lockdown.

When we look to the future and the roadmap to recovery, despite the vaccination programme and the promise of unlocking of restrictions, there are still challenges ahead, but it is positive to see that the integration of technology is an ongoing commitment for these businesses and seen as critical for their future success.”

With 41% of UK businesses polled having adopted more technology, the data revealed its application has been to support people…:

  • 40% introduced internal communications or employee engagement software
  • 35% introduced new HR software
  • 34% internal comms and employee engagement
  • …and to improve their business operations.

43% introduced new customer communications platform

Over a third (34%) introduced an eCommerce offering to support their business.

46% introduced vehicle management software, e.g. vehicle tracking or fuel management software

How SMEs view the road ahead

it is no surprise that Coronavirus restrictions rank as the number one obstacle (32%) the businesses surveyed will face over the next 12 months. Brexit regulations (23%), financial challenges (25%), and high standards of customer expectation (24%) are also top reasons for concern. And these worries seem to be the backdrop to SMEs’ outlook when it comes to business growth over the next 12 months with only 30% of businesses surveyed feeling optimistic about their growth in the next 12 months.

On a more positive note, the shift to digital does not seem to be fazing UK SMEs, with over three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed not considering technology issues as a major concern moving forward.

 

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