Medium-sized businesses now account for over 60% of US jobs, and are investing fast in technology. However, with digital now a priority for businesses of all sizes, they must ensure they have the necessary skills and security management in place to handle the change, or risk falling behind competitors according to a new report from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.
Developed to explore how medium-sized businesses across the globe are currently adopting workplace technology, and featuring responses from over 2,700 employees in management and non-management roles across medium-sized businesses, The Hidden Middle study uncovered a number of key trends:
Medium-sized businesses are the most active users of workplace technology: Almost two-thirds (63%) of medium-sized business employees rated the “choice of technology, applications and IT support” at their company as either good or very good. That compared to 53% of those also surveyed from the largest companies.
Medium-sized businesses are also ahead of the competition in their use of advanced audio-visual technologies (such as voice-activated and wireless communication tools), which are offered by an average of 27% of medium-sized businesses, compared to 16% of smaller and 22% of larger employers.
They are placing a heavy emphasis on the cloud: Around a quarter (24%) of medium-sized business employees said their company had invested in cloud storage software over the last 12 months, compared to 17% of large firms. Medium-sized businesses are also prioritizing cyber security software: 39% reported investments in this area in the last year, compared to 31% of large businesses.
And are offering a better working environment as a result: In light of their impressive commitment to new technology medium-sized business employees are significantly more likely (66%) to rate their “environment at work” as either good or very good in comparison to those at the largest companies (57%).
Businesses of this size are also more agile when it comes to offering flexibility for employees to use personal devices for work – with 72% of medium-sized business employees allowed to do this, compared to only 53% of those who work for larger employers.
But there is demand for better management of technology investments: Over three quarters (77%) of medium-sized business employees either agreed or strongly agreed that “if not managed correctly, the introduction of new technology could damage employee morale;” while 78% agreed that “my organization’s management and control of the connected devices that are in use could be improved.”
A risky road ahead
With two thirds of employees at medium-sized businesses (66%) saying their organization was “at risk of falling behind competitors” by not implementing new technology, the pressure to keep pace is clear – but so too are the associated dangers.
Despite being conscious of their organizations’ cybersecurity policies, nearly three quarters (74%) of medium-sized business employees said they had taken risks with company data in the past year. In addition, less than half (48%) said that security was the responsibility of “every employee” – compared to two thirds of those who work for the largest employers (66%).
“As the adoption and integration of technology becomes a bigger priority across the corporate spectrum, medium-sized businesses have a distinct opportunity,” said Patrick LaPorte, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Aruba.
“Though often forgotten in the digital transformation conversation – with the focus instead on how large companies are struggling to adapt or smaller businesses are seizing the ability to scale – it is medium-sized businesses whose employees show the willingness and agility to make better use of technology and understanding of the opportunities it brings. The key is enabling them to do so. But with that comes a certain degree of security risk.”
“The success of the digital workplace depends on the practical implementation of technology – and that’s as much about the user experience as it is the technical infrastructure. For medium-sized businesses to realize the full value of their investments and eliminate the risks, their leaders must ensure employees are given the training needed to be productive and IT the tools to ensure safe use.”