“…Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) lag 3-5 years behind larger enterprises when adopting technology.“
This is from a post on Small Business Trends, which also outlines the basic reasons for this lag: lack of IT focus and dedicated personnel, difficult for vendors to reach the market, non-electronic processes, need for additional hand-holding, and growth/availability of funds.
All this is based on an excellent post from a blogger in India, but the concepts definitely map to what I’ve seen in talking to small business owners here in the States. I interview small business owners regularly, and I’m consistently amazed at the lack of effective use of technology in small business. I don’t see how smaller companies can compete with larger ones long-term without increasing (effective) adoption of technology. I constantly see paper-based processes that eat up dozens of worker-hours per month that could be automated to a point where they would take a couple worker-*minutes *per month, AND result in more consistent and usable business data.
As someone who is fairly technical, all of my companies have always had the latest technologies in place, and have had systems (often custom-built) to electronically manage the various processes and information flows. Once built, these systems were a breeze to maintain… but if we hadn’t had internal software development resources we likely would not have had the money to build them in the first place. I’m not sure what the answer is here, but in this era of increased consolidation and forced efficiency small business is going to have to learn… and learn fast.