Denver, CO – August 11, 2009 – Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around the world expect the global economy to rebound by the end of 2009 (25 percent) or mid-2010 (34 percent) according to an independent survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Verio Inc., the leading provider in delivering online business solutions to SMBs worldwide.
Interviewing executives from small and medium-sized businesses from around the globe to better understand how they are approaching business strategy during the global recession, a report detailing the results of the survey, Understanding Growth Priorities of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses, noted that the top three growth challenges facing SMBs were reaching new customers, attracting and retaining talented employees, and access to cash flow.
In helping to prepare for an improved economy, companies ranked the most important areas as technology, marketing, operations, production, sales, customer service and research and development. Companies in all regions reported that technology efforts will focus on improving processes and exploring new ways to improve their business in light of the downturn.
“Nearly all SMBs, regardless of region or industry are focused on simply doing business better,” said Laurel Delaney, President and Founder, GlobeTrade.com (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. Company). “It’s clear that there are difficult challenges that still lie ahead, but SMBs are resilient and realize that technology plays a key role in helping them be more efficient and improve operations so they can survive in today’s economy and thrive in the long term.”
The top five IT priorities over next three years for SMBs based in Asia-Pacific were reported as improving how IT supports business operations, improving data analytics efforts, cutting costs, reducing complexity, and improving ROI.
When discussing challenges to growth, Asia-Pacific respondents placed a high emphasis on ensuring consistent quality of products and services, as well as communicating strategy throughout the organization. The only region that placed a higher emphasis on each category was North America.
Across all regions, a majority of SMBs (61 percent) believe that their company was taking an offensive rather than defensive approach to the economic downturn. Sixty-one percent of Western European SMBs, more than any other region, believe that their company is more nimble than its main competitors.
SMBs in Western Europe were the most likely to report that they would invest in innovative technology to get ahead of competitors.
More than any other region, 18 percent of Eastern European SMBs expect a decrease in revenue over last year, in comparison to 10 percent of all regions combined. Respondents from this region ranked technology as the second most important area in helping their company prepare for when the economy improves, while being the most likely to report that they would use technology to cut costs rather than increase revenue (21 percent).
Companies in all regions except for Latin America reported that their top business priority in the next twelve months would be focusing on core business, with SMBs in this region reporting that improving efficiencies was their top priority. Latin American SMBs were also the least likely to report that technology would be a critical competitive advantage in bringing their business out of the recession, but the most likely to expect an increase in operational efficiency after the recession.
Middle East and Africa
Reaching new customers was identified as the number one challenge among all SMBs, except for those in the Middle East and Africa, which was the only region to identify streamlining business processes and ensuring good decision-making among the top five challenges over the next twelve months. SMBs in this region along with Eastern Europe were the two most likely regions to use technology to cut costs.
Across all regions, local and national governments were viewed as unsupportive of respondents’ businesses. Perceived low support of SMBs was attributed to the fact that the public views large companies as more important, that there was not enough attention drawn to SMBs, and that SMBs have fewer advocates than large companies.
“The research coming from these global markets demonstrates that as SMBs continue to develop and grow their business, leveraging technology to drive growth will become increasingly important given the current economic climate,” said Ken Giffin, Director of Marketing for Verio.
To receive a complimentary copy of Understanding Growth Priorities of SMBs, visit www.verio.com/eiu.
About the survey
In April 2009 the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted an online survey of 328 executives from small and medium-sized businesses worldwide to understand how they are approaching business strategy during the global recession. Of the respondents to our survey, 45 percent held CEO, president or managing director titles; 66 percent of all respondents held c-level titles. About 27 percent were directors, department heads and other managers. Worldwide, 29 percent work at companies based in North America, 29 percent in Asia-Pacific, 19 percent in Western Europe, 10 percent in Eastern Europe, 9 percent in the Middle East and Africa, and 5 percent in Latin America. Forty eight percent work at firms with less than $5M in annual revenues; 31 percent have revenues between $5M and $50M; 21 percent have revenues between $50M and $50M. Respondents represented a range of industries.
About the Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through our global network of more than 650 analysts and contributors, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in more than 200 countries. As the world’s leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.
About Verio Inc. (www.verio.com)
Verio is the leading provider in delivering innovative online business solutions to SMBs worldwide. Verio's solutions provide Cloud, web hosting, managed services, application hosting and SaaS that enables SMBs to drive online success. Verio is a subsidiary of NTT Communications and supports its operations with their highly reliable and scalable Global Tier-1 IP Network. Through this network, Verio provides partners and customers with access to business solutions in more than 120 datacenters worldwide. For more information, join us on Twitter @Verio, Facebook Verio or www.verio.com.
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