Small firms ‘turning to data to steer their Covid recovery’

Sep 2, 2020 | Skills

Small firms ‘turning to data to steer their Covid recovery’
Small and medium sized businesses are turning to data-driven business thinking as a critical part of their Covid recovery. As digital transformation has emerged as a “must have” for every business, companies are up-skilling their teams to work remotely.

The world’s small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are turning to data as they look to steer a course to COVID recovery, with 61% saying their employee productivity was similar as in the office.

The research, from Seagate, quizzed 3,000 small and medium sized business (SMB) decision-makers globally.

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.

Many SMB’s 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 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. 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, 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.

SMBs to adopt 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. The pandemic has sparked a reassessment of the value of business data among SMB decision-makers: more than half (55%) say they recognize 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 SMBs at risk of not getting value out of their data

According to Seagate’s 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 centralized 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 key growth engines of the global economy, and our research suggests that many are realizing to 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, realizing the true value of the data those businesses have stored will become critical to unlocking future growth and innovation opportunities. Our upgrades to the IronWolf and IronWolf Pro family of NAS products will provide small and medium businesses with the robust data management infrastructure they need as they plan for the future.”

The company also announced an update to its IronWolf and IronWolf Pro Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive lines, aimed at home and small office environments, with new 18TB capacity HDD and new SATA SSD models. These new drives deliver unrivalled speed, capacity, and stamina to bring reliable, scalable, and consistent performance to NAS solutions.


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