More than a third of SMEs in the UK see technological disruption as a threat to their business, according to research from investment firm Albion Capital.
By contrast, the Albion Growth Report 2017 reveals that just one in five SMEs (22 per cent) believe technology will create opportunities for their business.
The findings suggest that SMEs are prioritising investment in defence of their existing business, with half of those surveyed citing cyber security and data protection as their most important areas of focus.
Areas of investment which could improve efficiency and competitive differentiation saw less focus, with only 34 per cent of SMEs regarding digital marketing as a top priority, and even fewer businesses investing in cloud infrastructure (25 per cent), automation (15 per cent) and data analytics (16 per cent).
“We are in the midst of unprecedented technological change and agile, digitally native SMEs are responsible for much of the current innovation transforming business,” said Albion Capital partner Ed Lascelles.
“While early-stage technology firms have made big leaps forward with offerings providing advanced, data-driven insights, our research shows SMEs from across a broader range of sectors may be struggling to access these tools.
“It is not surprising, given the challenges posed by disruption and the pervasive nature of cyber threats, that SMEs are prioritising their IT defences. But the prevalence of big data machine learning solutions will dramatically increase and SMEs must ensure they are equipped with the latest technology to remain competitive in the data driven economy.
“As revenue generating technologies develop and become more affordable, SMEs must embrace the opportunities on offer.”
The research also reveals that for SMEs that expect their productivity to grow in the next two years, technology is the most cited driver (33 per cent), followed by skill levels (30 per cent) and key personnel (26 per cent).
Finance and accounting, medical and health services, and manufacturing are the sectors most likely to see technological disruption as a threat to their business.