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Konica Minolta Research Reveals Impact of COVID-19 on SMBs

Pain Points Study Reveals Depth of Security and Remote Work Challenges During Pandemic

Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. (Konica Minolta) is pleased to share findings revealed in new research by Keypoint Intelligence, “Top SMB IT Pain Points & Solutions.” Created on behalf of Konica Minolta, the study surveyed 550 SMB IT decision makers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic to identify their main challenges and pain points relating to technology.

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The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the pain points of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) around security and data protection. 48 percent described security and data protection as being their number one IT challenge. 37 percent of businesses said that their employees had experienced virus, malware or security threats due to conditions imposed during the pandemic. As a result of those security issues, 47 percent of companies have acquired or upgraded IT security software or services.

SMBs encountered significant challenges in their efforts to enable remote work in the wake of the pandemic. For example, 38 percent of IT decision makers viewed managing remote work as being difficult or very difficult. For nearly half of SMBs (49 percent), the lack of necessary employee hardware or software was a difficulty associated with home-based working. Similarly, 44 percent of IT decision-makers identified servicing/supporting home workers’ IT hardware or software as a challenge. As a likely consequence of this, 33 percent invested in managed IT services as a result of COVID-19.

In terms of day-to-day operations, remote work also presented particular challenges relating to team communication and in accessing and collaborating on files. In fact,  51 percent of respondents identified communication with managers or other employees as a business operation challenge resulting from work-from-home arrangements. Meanwhile, 37 percent indicated that locating files was an IT challenge associated with working from home. An additional 30 percent cited digital document collaboration as another business operations challenge resulting from employees working remotely. From these findings, it is clear why 35 percent of SMBs have invested in document sharing and collaboration applications as a result of the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, we saw the challenges being faced by our SMB clients and our dealer partners, many of whom are SMBs themselves. The study revealed accelerated digital transformation across all industries, the desire of many organizations to adopt new technologies around security and data protection, and the need to ensure employees are properly equipped to do their jobs,” said Kay Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Konica Minolta. “This insight confirmed our strategies and refined our response to support clients. Our customized technology solutions and services, such as All Covered Assurance, were specifically designed to manage the IT landscape and address these pain points for the SMB customer segment.”

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The challenge of remote working spurring digitalization efforts

Other technologies also saw increased adoption. For example, 45 percent acquired or upgraded cloud data storage as a result of COVID-19. In 65 percent of organizations, decision-makers said that the pressures of the pandemic had accelerated their journey toward greater digitalization. With document digitization a common way to achieve this, 56 percent of organizations cited scanning initiatives prompted by COVID-19 as drivers for increased digitalization. Against this background, it is nevertheless remarkable that many SMBs (42 percent) are still heavily reliant on paper-based processes. 49 percent of organizations cited privacy and safety concerns as the main reason for still using paper.

The swift changes forced on everyone by the pandemic have irreversible consequences for the future workplace IT, especially for SMBs. Employees and businesses alike have experienced first-hand how much flexibility is possible. Not only with regard to remote work and collaboration, but also with optimized digital processes in general.

The “Top SMB IT Pain Points & Solutions” study was conducted from February to March 2021 in collaboration with Keypoint Intelligence. It included 550 SMBs in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. Respondents were in the professional services, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and leisure and real estate industries. Each of the organizations has 50-250 employees. Respondents included those holding IT and non-IT roles within their organizations.

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