• Almost half of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Europe project increased investment in tech this year
• Cloud migration, server updates and hardware upgrades take priority despite challenging business environment
• Majority admit to continued concerns around security and challenges adapting to Hybrid working
Technology investment is set to increase this year across European SMEs, despite the challenging economic climate, according to new pan European research of nearly 6,000 firms across 11 markets unveiled today. The insights commissioned by Sharp Europe, the major provider of business technology products and services to enterprises across Europe, show almost one third (31%) of firms embarking on cloud migration projects as SMEs continue to deal with changing working patterns and the challenges of hybrid working.
The research surveyed 5,770 professionals within SMEs, including IT decision makers and those responsible for purchasing IT across Europe, on their top business and technology challenges and IT investment priorities for the next 12 months.
Despite rising costs and other business challenges, almost half (45%) of enterprises are planning to invest more than last year, with only 10% reducing investment. 56% of European SMEs plan to invest more than £20,000 on IT this year with 4% investing more than £100,000. SMEs in Belgium and Switzerland are set to invest the most, with three-quarters of enterprises planning to spend between £20,000 and £100,000.
In terms of where investment is focused, almost one third (31%) of firms will be focused on cloud migration projects or increased services in the cloud this year, with hybrid working tech challenges ranked highly as a reason why. However, a third (32%) will still be focusing on upgrading or replacing servers as traditional IT set ups remain in place. In addition, over a third of SMEs across Europe are planning to invest in new hardware. Only 3% of those surveyed are not planning any IT improvements at all this year.
IT Security is the biggest technology challenge European SMEs feel that they will face over the next 12 months, so encouragingly four in ten will be investing in improving IT security this year. In Spain, over half (51%) name investing in IT security as their biggest priority.
Colin Blumenthal, European Vice President, IT Services at Sharp Europe, comments:
“2023 is set to be a more challenging environment for enterprises to grow, yet for SMEs turbulence has become second nature, and they’re once again having to find new ways to move forward while at the same time questions around efficiency, security, and how to add value to the business have taken priority.
“The past two years have reshaped the way enterprises run, how their employees work, and expanded their threat landscape. The continued shift of workloads, processes and data to the cloud and on-premises infrastructures are enabling enterprises to create a value proposition that supports a new generation of workers and will be key to hiring and retaining the best talent possible. At the same time, with more information than ever before being held in the public cloud, it’s no surprise that SMEs believe that IT Security is one of the top technology challenges that they’ll face over the coming months.
“It’s encouraging to see that SMEs across Europe are realising the opportunities for growth through investment in IT. Those priority projects that will receive funding over the coming months will deliver greater efficiencies, better management of diverse hybrid workforces, and support in delivering IT security.”
Additional high agenda tech challenges include ensuring that IT is available at all times, as well as navigating systems upgrades, hybrid working technology issues and business continuity.
In terms of business challenges, rising supply costs (32%), and cost of living crisis in general (32%) were seen as the top challenges that SMEs will face over the next 12 months. Rising supply costs (39%) and the cost of living in general (41%) are of the highest concern in the UK, and the lowest respectively (26% and 27%) for Sweden. Finding and retaining talent (27%) and managing a diverse hybrid workforce (27%) following major global change over the past three years, are also major challenges that European SMEs are looking to overcome.
For more on the European insights and trends outlined in the Sharp Europe research please visit here.
Notes to editors
The research was conducted by Censuswide between 1st February 2023-13th February 2023, and responded to by 5,5770 IT decision makers and people who are responsible for purchasing IT within SMEs, from 11 countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.
About Sharp Europe
Sharp Europe enables small to large enterprises and organisations to enhance performance and adapt for their workplaces of the future through a range of business technology products and services.
Headquartered in London, Sharp Europe serves customers in the private and public sectors, Education and Government, a portfolio ranging from printers and advanced flat screen technologies, collaboration platforms, through to IT services.
As part of Sharp Corporation, and with the backing of Foxconn, Sharp Europe is investing and leading the industry in new areas of technology that have the potential to change the world. It developed the world’s first commercially available 8K monitor and in 2019 launched the world’s first certified Windows collaboration display.