SMBs TURN TO DATA TO ASSIST WITH POST-COVID PLANS

Editorial Type: Research Date: 10-2020 Views: 828 Tags: Storage, SMBs, Management, Backup, Infrastructure, Seagate PDF Version:
The world's SMBs are turning to data as they look to steer a course to COVID recovery, according to new Seagate research which spoke to 3,000 small and medium sized business decision-makers globally

Seagate Technology has shared the results of a global survey of 3,000 small and medium sized business (SMB) decision-makers. The survey reveals that despite economic headwinds, existing SMB IT infrastructure for many SMBs has shown resilience, and a majority of SMBs believe business data will play an important role in their long-term recovery plans.

The research was commissioned by Seagate and carried out by FleishmanHillard's TRUE Global Intelligence and online market research firm Dynata. Results are based on an 11-question online survey fielded among 3,000 small business decision makers across six countries (UK, USA, Germany, China, South Korea, Taiwan), fielded between 21 May and 4 June 2020. Respondents included decision makers from small and medium sized businesses (2-249 employees) across a range of industries, and survey questions covered topics including current data storage systems, impacts of COVID-19 and home working, and perceived value of different business data types.

EXISTING IT INFRASTRUCTURE SHOWS RESILIENCE
Despite the rapid and unexpected shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, existing SMB IT infrastructure proved resilient, according to the Seagate research. More than half (54%) of SMB decision-makers reported no difficulty in accessing files or company data remotely, and 61% reported similar productivity levels to when their employees are in the office.

Almost half (45%) of SMB decision-makers reported their company's existing data infrastructure was more resilient than expected during the pandemic. All SMBs included in the study have fewer than 250 employees (see above), and the majority have fewer than 50.

During a time of acute crisis for many SMBs, many are taking the importance of robust IT infrastructure more seriously in their long-term planning. 50% of decision-makers surveyed said that they planned to invest in data backup and recovery services in the future, while 51% said that data technology could play a role in long-term business growth.

DATA-DRIVEN COVID-19 RECOVERY STRATEGIES
As SMBs look to the future, decision-makers are developing their recovery strategy. With 36% of SMB decision makers expecting their staff to work from home more often after COVID-19, increased appreciation of how data can help businesses recover and thrive will be essential.

Nearly two thirds (65%) of SMB decision-makers say that their post-COVID-19 recovery strategy is being informed by the data they have stored about their business.


"Small and medium sized businesses are a key growth engine of the global economy, and our research suggests that many are realising the potential value that data can deliver for their business as they look ahead at the road to recovery. As businesses of all shapes and sizes become increasingly dependent on technology, realising the true value of the data those businesses have stored will become critical to unlocking future growth and innovation opportunities."

The pandemic has sparked a reassessment of the value of business data among SMB decision-makers: more than half (55%) say they recognise the value of their business data more than before the pandemic.

There is a wide variety of business data available to SMBs, and decision-makers regard some of that data as much more important to their business' recovery strategy. Globally, SMB decision-makers ranked data around customer acquisition (59%) and customer retention (57%) as the most valuable data to their business, with employee productivity metrics coming in third place (52%).

UK POORLY PREPARED FOR LONG TERM?
According to the research, UK SMBs were better prepared than the global average for the rapid shift to remote working during the onset of COVID-19, however they are less prepared for long-term recovery.

  • Only 17% of UK SMB decision-makers reported their business had no centralised data storage systems in place, lower than the global average (21%), and perhaps as a result fewer UK SMB decision-makers reported their staff having difficulties in accessing files remotely (38% vs. 46% global average)
  • 37% of UK SMB decision-makers say their team has been less productive while working from home. This is in line with the global average of 39%. Chinese SMBs' productivity suffered more during COVID-19, with 50% reporting lowered productivity, while German SMBs were less impacted, with only 22% reporting lowered productivity.
  • UK SMB decision-makers are the most likely among all countries surveyed to anticipate long-term remote working (42% expect their employees to work from home more often in future than they did pre-COVID-19, vs. 36% global average). However, despite this anticipation of long-term change, only 53% of UK SMB decision-makers reported using data to help inform their business recovery strategy, lower than the global average of 65% and China (83%).

"Small and medium sized businesses are a key growth engine of the global economy, and our research suggests that many are realising the potential value that data can deliver for their business as they look ahead at the road to recovery," said Jeff Fochtman, senior vice president of marketing and business at Seagate Technology. "As businesses of all shapes and sizes become increasingly dependent on technology, realising the true value of the data those businesses have stored will become critical to unlocking future growth and innovation opportunities."