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Going digital was crucial for the survival of most SMEs during the pandemic

Going digital has helped 71% of growing small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) survive the pandemic, according to a new study from Salesforce.

To compile the fifth edition of its Small and Medium Business Trends report, the CRM giant asked The Harris Poll to interview 2,500 SME owners and managers in North America, South America, Europe and in Asia-Pacific. The results of the report highlight the ways in which SMEs have succeeded in a digital world.

According to Salesforce, the most successful SMBs are those that have taken action to gain the trust of their employees. Among the SMEs surveyed, 50% of those with increasing incomes offered flexible working arrangements to their employees during the pandemic, compared to 38% of their declining peers.

It’s also important to build trust with customers, with 75% of growing SMEs saying their customers expect online transactions. As a result, 72% of them have an e-commerce presence, with more than a third (35%) added in the past year. At the same time, 95% of growing SMBs are taking steps to secure company data and protect customer information from cyber attacks.

Adopt a digital world first

Many small businesses were not prepared for the pandemic and its economic impact and therefore were forced to go digital. They did this by ensuring that their employees had access to the online collaboration tools and video conferencing software they needed to do their jobs.

While 71% of SMEs say they have survived the pandemic through digitization, 66% said their businesses could not have survived using the technology of ten years ago. Additionally, 72% of SMEs have increased their business’ online presence in the past year, while 42% have stepped up their technology investments in the past year (up from 33% in August 2020).

As the pandemic eventually ends, 75% of SMEs believe the changes they have made to their business operations over the past year will benefit their business in the long run. When it comes to the future of work, 43% predict that employees will split their time between working in person and working remotely by adopting a hybrid work policy.

The pandemic has changed the nature of work globally, but luckily many SMEs realized early on that they would have to go digital if they were to survive.

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