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A contented medium: how connectivity may help mid-sized companies overcome sector challenges | Related considering

Using extra individuals than small or FTSE 350 firms, the UK’s medium-sized companies (usually outlined as these using 50 to 249 individuals) have been dubbed “the engine of financial progress”.

Nonetheless, being too huge to qualify for lots of presidency assist, and too small to have the affect and energy of worldwide giants, the UK’s mid-market companies are additionally battling their very own set of challenges. Medium-sized corporations play an essential position in world provide chains, that are below unprecedented stress resulting from a variety of geopolitical components.

Many of those corporations are operating on legacy programs and processes, and dealing with long-term underinvestment in abilities and applied sciences. In line with Grant Thornton’s Business Outlook Tracker, funding expectations amongst medium-sized firms had stalled, with intentions round investing in know-how having declined by 22 share factors in December, in contrast with July 2021.

And but know-how is one space with a whole lot of potential for mid-market companies to thrive. Extra agile than their bigger counterparts, however with extra assets at their disposal than small companies, leveraging digital know-how may very well be key to their resilience, flexibility and scalability, as some medium-sized firms have found.

Catherine Amran - final
Catherine Amran of Virgin Media O2 Enterprise

“Digital transformation and the tech that makes it occur are key to serving to medium-sized companies overcome a number of the challenges they’re at the moment dealing with, and thrive at a time of giant change and uncertainty,” says Catherine Amran, director of small and medium enterprise at Virgin Media O2 Enterprise.

“However these challenges can fluctuate massively. To get probably the most out of their tech, these companies want a associate that may present a devoted, tailor-made connectivity service – whether or not that’s through their account group, coaching, or technical assist – for workers in or out of the workplace. As a enterprise scales up and down, flexibility and flexibility are very important to serving to it obtain extra with connectivity.”

Easing the rising pains
For a lot of mid-market corporations, it’s the progress transition from a small- to a medium-sized enterprise that brings the mid-market challenges into sharp focus. Tiny Insurgent is a Welsh craft brewery based by two buddies of their storage a decade in the past. At this time, it employs 168 individuals, runs three bars, and operates a wholesale division, supplying the likes of Sainsbury’s.

As Tiny Insurgent’s operations expanded, guide processes that had been beforehand simple to handle turned laborious and time-consuming. Funding in digital know-how, together with an open API (utility programming interface) that enables completely different components of the enterprise to attach with one another, has helped to streamline operations and create efficiencies.

“As we’ve grown we’ve felt extra strain factors from completely different components of the enterprise. We began out utilizing spreadsheets, however now use a cloud-based accounting system. We’ve invested in a brand new inventory management system and, that, together with our dispatch system, can connect with our accounting system via the API, course of the gross sales invoices and buy orders and management our inventory,” says Hannah Williams, chief monetary officer at Tiny Insurgent. “It’s seamless, and environment friendly, and has enabled us to minimise our staffing prices, whereas the elevated velocity and transparency created by digital tech permits us to make higher, quicker enterprise choices.”

Female worker selecting spare parts in a factory store area
Digital know-how akin to inventory management programs can enhance effectivity. {Photograph}: Alistair Berg/Getty Pictures

Supporting world enlargement
As a medium enterprise expands into abroad markets, digital know-how performs an important position in supporting world buyer relationships.

Algeos is a household enterprise using 62 individuals, which manufactures and distributes medical supplies, know-how and consumables to the podiatry, physiotherapy, footwear and orthopaedic markets. Alongside coping with provide chain challenges, the Liverpool-based agency is targeted on bettering the corporate’s connectivity – upgrading a few of its IT programs with new servers and {hardware}, and adopting new communications know-how, together with the Groups and Zoom platforms to offer interactive webinars to assist educate its clients. A brand new phone system helps group members earn a living from home extra effectively and successfully, whereas funding in new servers and {hardware} has supplied employees with higher entry to data.

“By being extra digitally targeted, we’ve helped clients who want it most, be it in new markets or on a extra worldwide scale,” says Max Sheridan, managing director at Algeos. “It has turn out to be our storefront to a world viewers, permitting us to increase our attain to new clients in new markets right here and abroad.”

Alongside investing in new tech, companies might want to guarantee they’ve the best expertise and abilities to assist and use this know-how. Attracting and retaining expertise, particularly in a troublesome labour market, is a problem for the mid-market sector – however as new analysis from Virgin Media O2 Enterprise exhibits, funding in know-how and connectivity can provide corporations within the sector a aggressive benefit.

The Battle for Talent report, based mostly on a survey of 1,500 private and non-private sector respondents, says that 56% of medium enterprise respondents would really feel happier at work if their employer invested in new digital know-how, whereas 45% stated they’d be extra more likely to keep of their position.

Investing in digital tech
Finance is one other key problem for the mid-market sector. The December Business Outlook Tracker discovered that solely 64% of mid-market corporations had been assured of their firm’s funding place, a decline of 10 share factors from the earlier two months.

New analysis from Challenge Works means that mid-market corporations could discover it more durable to safe funding than smaller firms. It revealed that 64% of innovators in medium-sized companies believed that funders, together with authorities funders and buyers, most well-liked to spend money on well-known firms.

Schemes akin to Get More, a tech fund launched by Virgin Media O2 Enterprise, may help. An initiative that goals so as to add worth for medium companies and alleviate a number of the monetary pressures, Get Extra provides them 10% of the price of eligible new broadband and cellular plans to place in the direction of new tech for his or her employees.

Some corporations are discovering that funding in digital tech may help them fight one other enormous monetary problem, that of rising prices. The Conservatory Outlet Group provides home windows, doorways and residing house merchandise to a community of 27 unbiased retailers throughout the UK. The 230-person agency has confronted monetary challenges from rising prices. “Uncooked materials throughout the board rose by 25-30% final yr, with an additional improve of 15% this yr. There may be real worry within the trade that extra rises are on the best way,” says Craig Schmidt, group head of IT on the firm.

Final yr, the Conservatory Outlet Group introduced a £250,000 funding in new IT {hardware} and software program, which included the combination of their front-end gross sales programs with manufacturing, set up and assortment to shorten and streamline the shopper journey.

“We’ve offset a few of these worth rises by changing into much more environment friendly and utilizing our digital transformation undertaking to schedule inventory higher, study from real-time data and streamline completely different processes,” says Schmidt. “Investing £250,000 when the economic system is so fragile was not a simple determination, however generally you need to endure short-term ache for future achieve. I might advise different mid-sized firms to search for any native or regional assist that’s out there. We secured some matched funding, which didn’t cowl the prices of the undertaking, however did make the choice to take a position simpler.”

Dealing with a broad vary of challenges, many influenced by their sector, medium-sized companies will profit from having digital companions who perceive these challenges and might seek the advice of them on the most effective options.

To learn the total Battle for Expertise report from Virgin Media O2 Enterprise, download it here

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