CIT Survey: Tech Investments Lead Priorities for Small Businesses

Small business executives revealed their top priorities for investment and growth in a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll and sponsored by CIT Group that explores the intersection of technology and talent in driving business success.

More than one in three small business executives (37%) plan to invest even more in their businesses during the next 12 months compared to the past 12 months, the survey reports. Cloud computing systems (52%), customer relationship management tools (48%) and cyber security/data privacy (47%) are key priorities for technology investments over the next 12 months, those planning to invest say.

Earlier technology investments have already paid off for small businesses, with 42% crediting tech spending as a driver of growth over the past 12 months, along with providing exceptional customer service (60%) and offering new products (48%).

Additionally, most small business executives agree that continuous technological investment is a business need (84%) and that it is critical in helping their business to attract and retain customers (79%).

For small businesses, the most important financial business needs over the next 12 months will be optimizing cash flow (43%) and increasing working capital (43%), highlighting the importance of high-quality financing services.

“Understanding these key insights and trends can help small businesses maintain a competitive edge and also drive growth,” said Ken Martin, managing director of CIT’s Small Business Solutions unit.

Small business leaders recognize that their workforce will play a major role in implementing technology investments and addressing the risks that may come with them. While most (82%) say their current workforce has the technology skills to keep pace with digital transformation, more than two in three (69%) also say businesses need to focus on hiring tech-savvy employees as relationship building becomes less important.

Cyber-security and data privacy are top of mind for small business executives, as 56% say that the risk of security or data breaches are among the top three highest concerns when it comes to technological changes. Other concerns include not knowing how new technology will work with current tools or systems (41%) and not having enough capital to invest in the latest technology (32%).

Less than a third of small business executives are currently outsourcing financial aspects of their business, such as payroll (32%), credit protection (20%), talent acquisition (13%) and accounts receivables management (12%). However, as companies add more employees, it is increasingly likely that they will consider outsourcing these various services. Additionally, small businesses may also embrace a more virtual workplace and expect an increase in remote staff.

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