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Medium-sized businesses are leading the digital workplace

A new report from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, shows that the ‘hidden middle’ are committed to technology, but must ensure they have the skills in place to reap the benefits of their investments

Medium-sized businesses contribute more than €1tn to the European economy and are investing fast in technology. However, according to Aruba, with digital now a priority for organisations 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.

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 nonmanagement roles across medium-sized businesses, The Hidden Middle report uncovered a number of key trends:

Medium-sized businesses are the most active users of workplace technology: Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) 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 per cent 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 speakers), which are offered by an average of 27 per cent of medium-sized business, compared to 16 per cent of smaller and 22 per cent of larger employers.

Heavy emphasis on the cloud: Around a quarter (24 per cent) of medium-sized business employees said their company had invested in cloud storage software over the last 12 months, compared to 17 per cent of large firms. Medium-sized businesses also appear to be prioritising cyber security software: 39 per cent reported investments in this area in the last year, compared to 31 per cent of large businesses.

A better working environment: In light of their impressive commitment to new technology, medium-sized business employees are significantly more likely (66 per cent) to rate their ‘environment at work’ as either good or very good in comparison to those at the largest companies (57 per cent). Businesses of this size are also more agile when it comes to offering flexibility for employees to use personal devices at work – with 72 per cent of medium-sized business employees allowed to do this, compared to only 53 per cent of those who work for larger employers.

Demand for stronger management to handle technological investments: Over three quarters 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 per cent agreed that ‘my organisation’s management and control of the connected devices that are in use could be improved’.

Morten Illum, VP of EMEA at Aruba said: “As the adoption and integration of technology becomes a bigger priority across the corporate spectrum, medium-sized businesses have a distinct opportunity. 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 agility and willingness 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.”

A risky road ahead
With two-thirds of employees at medium-sized businesses saying their organisation 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 organisation’s cyber security, 74 per cent of medium-sized business employees said they had taken risks with company data in the past year. In addition, less than half (48 per cent) said that security was the responsibility of ‘every employee’ – compared to two-thirds of those who work for the largest employers.

Illum added: “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 and support needed to make both productive and safe use of the new tools.”

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