SMEs are the backbone of any healthy economy. When managed well – with the necessary policy, financial, and education support on the part of Government and other relevant entities – SMEs can be a significant contributor to employment, innovation and development, and economic growth.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many SMEs closed their doors. Many more, however, successfully pivoted to a new digital space. This pivot was essential in helping many New Zealanders maintain employment and successfully navigate the trying year that was 2020. Some SMEs have even reported significant growth since this time, as they’ve embraced more technological-based approaches to interacting with clients, managing supply chains, and conducting daily operations.
Technology has also helped SME owners gain access to a broader talent base through enabling them to liaise effectively with any number of employees from across the world. Greater access to valuable human resources has, in turn, helped SMEs improve their products and service delivery, expand their client base, and lay the groundwork for future growth.
Despite fears of digitisation leading to potential job losses, a 2019 enquiry by the New Zealand Productivity Commission found that technology adoption creates as many jobs as it replaces. The Commission also recommends adopting more technology going forward, with a stipulation to ensure smooth transition and employee support in this process.
The next logical step for SMEs is, then, to invest more in technological resources, including cloud-based technology, IT infrastructure, and hardware. Training and developing employees in technological use can also set SMEs up for (continued) success. For SMEs who might not have the wherewithal to make such adoptions or offer such training in-house, there is always the option of outsourcing this work to specialist companies. Through the intentional adoption of technology, SMEs may continue to play a significant role in the New Zealand economy in the years to come.