Europe’s small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are fundamentally re-evaluating their market offerings as they aim to keep pace with consumers’ demands in the digital age, according to new research.
According to new research commissioned by Ricoh Europe, a quarter (24%) of the 3,300 SMB leaders surveyed from across 23 countries expect to sell entirely different products and services within the next five years.
With heightened customer demands dictating the direction of change, 59% of SMB leaders claim innovation is now a top priority. Value for money, demand for choice and emphasis on the quality of experience are deemed to have the most influence over how market offerings can stay current and relevant. As a result, 91% expect to change their products and services to at least some degree.
Technology is seen as playing a vital role in the innovation process, with 45% of SMB leaders planning to use data driven insights to help shape their product set. However, concerns still exist with 59% calling for access to better workplace technologies, 42% wanting clearer routes to funding and 39% identifying complex regulation as a key challenge.
David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, says: “Today’s SMB leaders are tasked with charting a path through increasingly uncertain times. The good thing is that this can force companies to reconsider the direction they’re taking and help them find a more successful route to market. In particular, technological advancements are allowing for progressive change across an increasingly wide range of sectors. Leaders are telling us that increasing the quality of their products is key, but so are lowering costs and accelerating time to market. When taking the time to reassess their offering it’s essential they carefully consider how their organisation can work in more effective ways to strike the right balance.”
Fabio Fogliani, Managing Director at refrigeration company Beijer Ref – a Ricoh customer based in Italy – places technological innovation at the heart of its mission to drive customer success.
Fogliani comments: “Innovation offers us the opportunity to reduce our time to market. Our aim is to get customers the best solution possible, as soon as we can and at the lowest price. Technical competence is one of the key ingredients to our success. We’re constantly considering new ways to do business and conceiving original approaches to old problems. If there’s an incredible new product we want our sales teams to show our customers, then they need to have access to it the day after we’re updated by our suppliers. By using technology in new ways, we’re able to spread an agile mindset and innovative products throughout the company extremely quickly and ahead of our competitors.”