Embracing digital technology is central to future of SMEs

Businesses need to innovate and take advantage of the digital technologies that are available to them if they want to be successful on a global scale.


That is the view of Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator who added that those who fail to innovate could find themselves in difficulty in the long-term.


Innovation can lead to increasing product lines and expansion, while it also tends to develop a brand which consequently gives many SMEs a sound financial footing.


With many businesses still reeling form the effects of the recession, finding ways to avoid the need for corporate restructuring processes is seen as pivotal.


Mr. Swantree said that the UK needs to start competing with countries like Japan and Korea in developing new digital platforms and applications.


“The biggest threat to business is not to innovate,” he explained. “SMEs have the opportunity to use the digital infrastructure that is now available in the UK to really innovate in productivity improvement, in strengthening their existing products for their customers, and in developing new businesses."


EE launched 4G services last year and many other providers have since followed suit, while the company is determined to drive innovation by trialling the world’s fastest mobile broadband network in London’s Tech City.


The network is meant to be capable of reaching speeds of up to 300Mbps and plans are in place to cover the whole of London with the service by next year.


This provides a serious technical platform for SMEs in the capital and should open up plenty of opportunities for them to expand and develop.


However, in instances where this is not possible, processes such as receivership, administration and a company voluntary arrangement can help companies escape financial hardship.


Mr. Swantee said there had been a huge uptake of 4G by SMEs across the UK, describing the situation as “phenomenal”.


He explained that the resulting benefits to productivity and customer experience are driving more SMEs to appreciate how technology can help them expand their businesses.


By Phil Smith


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