European firms expect ‘hard path to digitisation’

Mid-sized businesses across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain expect digitisation to provide business advantages, including the removal of barriers to growth reports Ricoh Europe.

Research commissioned by the global tech group found that 95% of firms polled by survey consultants Censuswide were optimistic. A total of 1,003 business decision makers and senior managers were canvassed across firms in the four key European economies, with between 50 and 500 employees and annual revenue between £2.5m and £100m (€117m/US$126m).

Of the various barriers, complex and costly regulatory requirements were singled out by 63% of respondents as most likely to be overcome by moving documents from a physical to digital format.

However, 91% of mid-sized business leaders expect to face a harder path to digitisation than enterprise-sized and small business rivals. Of most concern was the ability of enterprises to hire staff to specifically manage digitisation processes. Small businesses were perceived as having an easier path to digitisation thanks to greater agility as well as being more technology driven and understanding of the benefits of digitisation.

Despite these concerns, Ricoh Europe reports that mid-sized business leaders are powering ahead with digitisation initiatives to transform their business processes, with 94% investing in digitisation specifically. Respondents are most likely to invest 11-20% of their IT spend on the process.

The group comments that the firms surveyed are “united in their understanding of the benefits of digitising”, with 66% agreeing that it would provide their business with a significant competitive advantage over rivals. Improving businesses processes came out as the most demonstrable positive; while the finance department is seen as the top beneficiary of the technology.

Ricoh Europe’s chief executive officer (CEO), David Mills, commented: “While a fundamental part of any digitisation journey, technology is, of course, just one piece of the puzzle. Mid-sized businesses have a clear appetite for digitisation to improve processes and ways of working, but progress is being restricted by factors beyond their control.

“The wider need for support for mid-sized businesses’ problems must be recognised at a government level across Europe. This means the mid-market being treated as the unique and dynamic group of businesses that it is, and for unnecessary red tape to be cut if businesses of all sizes are to take part in an open and fair race to digitisation.”

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