Adopting Digital Technology: The Key Ingredient in SMB Recovery?

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have long known about the value digital technologies can bring. In 2017, a survey showed that over 80% of SMBs worldwide wanted to cut paper out of the way they invoice, report financials, manage legal and human resource forms and handle other time-consuming processes in the business.

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The government has recognised the importance of digital technologies in business. The UK Digital Strategy policy paper of 2017 highlighted research showing how digital capabilities helped boost revenues by 4.4% and reduce costs by 4.3%.


But even though digital technologies have been on the agenda for a while, it’s perhaps only this year that they’ve taken centre stage and we’ve moved more rapidly to adopting them.


In the past year, many businesses have seen the value of digital technologies in keeping processes moving when employees are working from home. Over 60% of full-time workers increased their use of collaboration tools – such as Slack, Zoom and Asana – and 19% used these tools for the first time.


In the longer term, after a decade of growth, we are facing a recession. Businesses will need to do everything they can to boost their recovery and it is clear digital technologies will play a vital role in boosting productivity and performance.


To understand the difference digital technologies make, let’s take a look at one of the areas where businesses would like to cut their use of paper – finance. How does finance automation help a business become more productive in the face of uncertainty?



1. Finance Automation Increases Employee Productivity

Compiling expense claims and processing supplier invoices are classic examples of activities that are important but don’t add any value to the bottom line. Tools such as the SAP Concur mobile app automate the processes and let employees capture receipts, create and approve expense claims, review and approve invoices and track mileage on-the-go.


The difference this makes is substantial.


After automating travel, invoice and expense processes, the average SMB saves 530 hours per finance employee per year – that’s over a day a week.


2. Finance Automation Maximises Company Profitability

When times are tough, you want to make intelligent savings wherever you can. But to make the right decisions, you need to have a bredth of information at your fingertips. That’s where paper-based processes let you down. At best, you only access limited information that represents a snapshot of how the business was – not how it is.


When you digitise and connect your finance processes, you get access to near real-time data and more information than ever before. This reveals spending trends and opens up opportunities to see ways to save money, often in significant amounts.  


The most recent research we conducted on benefits for our customers revealed that on average, Concur Expense customers with less than 1,000 employees typically save £31,000 a year and Concur Invoice customers save £33,000 a year.


3. Finance Automation Gives You Data to Develop Your Recovery Plans

The single, near real-time view of spend also gives you much better visibility when it comes to planning and forecasting. And because the data is in the cloud, it’s easy to give budget holders access to role-based dashboards so they are empowered to make informed decisions too.


It’s why 69% of SMBs using SAP Concur solutions say they are better able to overcome general business challenges thanks to better visibility into spending trends.



The Benefits of Finance Automation are Felt Throughout the Business

Finance processes such as travel, invoice and expense touch every area of the business. By automating the processes, you boost productivity by removing time-consuming, low-value tasks. At the same time, you boost profitability in more ways than one and equip yourself with the information you need to make better decisions that will strengthen the business now and into the future.


It's just one example of how digital technologies have a vital role to play in the recovery.


For more information on how the finance function can support the business right now, visit

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