The extraordinary possibilities unleashed by rapid innovation in digital technology should not be the sole preserve of global enterprises.

Every small or medium-sized business enterprise (SME) has access to the same or similar personal PCs as the largest enterprise.

But these organisations must develop technology stacks optimised to their specific needs. Every business has information at its fingertips, the very vision outlined[1] by Microsoft founder Bill Gates almost 30 years ago.

Employee productivity is a priority for 43% of CIOs or similar working for companies with fewer than 1,000 staff[2] and optimising the employee experience is key for 32% of them. But to capitalise on digital opportunities, SMEs must make sensible technology investments that will underpin hybrid working, collaboration and creativity.

With that in mind, here’s a four-point plan to plug in to cost-effective digital technology.

Find the right PC

The PC is the digital worker’s companion and workhorse, so businesses need to find the right partner and right-size investments to provide the performance that underpins productivity. That can still mean desktop PCs for optimal power but more likely laptops that are highly portable and have long battery life so that workers are as effective at home or on the road as they are in the office. Moreover, organisations should seek a robust build quality for durability: ASUS applies military-grade standards so that devices can withstand common causes of damage such as dropped machines, liquid spills or high temperatures. Finally, IT leaders need to think from the outset about remote and automated support, manageability and security to relieve their busy teams.

Capitalise on cloud

Cloud platforms are a boon for businesses of all kinds and can reduce costs. By adopting a ‘cloud-first’ stance, SMEs can claw back resources, build in collaboration and be confident that their platforms and applications are being looked after by highly skilled and dedicated organisations. They can also pay regular tariffs based only on usage levels, so risks are minimised to reduce upfront spend. Cloud also enables businesses to access more real time data – a potentially critical advantage in a highly competitive world. Finally, embracing modernisation allows software teams to get new services to market more quickly.

Work smarter with people and partners

Collaboration has emerged as a killer app in recent years. By tapping into conferencing, group productivity platforms, document automation and screen sharing, it’s easier than ever before to connect with peers anywhere in the world and create always-on, global value chains . Businesses with distributed teams cannot afford to rely on just emails to get things done. Tapping into the latest AI-powered noise-cancelling technology, crystal-clear audio wide-view webcams will ensure positive meeting experiences which drive innovation and morale.

And, as IDC[3] has noted, automation and collaboration have become watchwords for smaller or medium sized businesses who need to focus[4] on upgrading broadband capacity to get the most out of their collaborative networks. The analysts predict that by 2024, 70% of these organisations will invest in enhanced connectivity and communications services as customers now want to engage with businesses using a variety of channels.

The future of workplace collaboration for high-performing businesses will also likely mean more automation. The Automation Now & Next report[5] found 61% of organisations are using automation to help staff suffering from burnout.

Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of The Futurum Group writing in, says this automation will herald greater use of AI and immersive technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality and the metaverse.

Think digital

Becoming a digital organisation is about more than just tools. Smart companies look to digitise and automate at every turn to reduce costs and time to market, and to unleash creative thinking from their people. No wonder that strengthening IT and business collaboration is a top-three CEO priority among SMEs[6] and that McKinsey[7] has praised the increasing sophistication of IT among these types of businesses.

The rest is up to you: use your imagination to make best use of your digital estates. There is no longer a ‘digital divide’ for SMEs: it’s time to upgrade.

Find out how you can drive productivity with ASUS Business technology.

[1]Bill Gates’s 1994 keynote speech (You Tube)

[2] Foundry State of CIO research

[3] IDC, Worldwide SMB Market Profile Update, May 2022, # US48513422

[4] IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Small and Medium-Sized Business 2022 Predictions # US48299421

[5] Forbes: The Future Of Work: More Hybrid, More Collaborative, More Automated

[6] Foundry State of CIO research

[7] Article: Winning the SMB tech market in a challenging economy