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SMEs have fared much better than large corporations during the pandemic

remote work
(Image credit: Image Credit: Gpointstudio / Shutterstock)

Small and medium-sized businesses navigated the pandemic with greater ease than their larger corporate peers, a new study by Harvey Nash / KPMG suggests.

Based on a poll of more than 4,200 leaders across the globe, the 2020 CIO survey states that SMEs were better prepared for remote working, have been less distracted by cyberattacks and haven’t been as affected by skill shortages as large corporations.

This has placed them in pole position for 2021, making them almost three times more likely to increase their technology investment. Furthermore, they’re twice as likely to recruit additional tech professionals during 2021.

SMEs were better prepared to go remote, the report states. More than four in ten (41 percent) SMEs said all of their key workers could work remotely even before the pandemic, something none of the larger corporations could say. For more than two thirds (70 percent) of SMEs, 75 percent of their key workers could operate remotely in an efficient manner, compared to just 40 percent among large corporations.

But it’s not all about the actions of SMEs or corporations, it's also about cybercriminal activity. Hackers found corporations a more lucrative target than SMEs, with almost 50 percent more large enterprises than SMEs reporting an increase in cyberattacks since mass remote working kicked off in March.

Further, smaller firms weren’t as affected by skills shortages as corporations were. Almost a third (28 percent) fewer UK SMEs reported skills shortages as being a roadblock to innovation, compared to their larger counterparts.

“Covid-19 has posed significant challenges to whole swathes of businesses, both large and small. But the picture we now see emerging is that nimble SMEs are in many ways better positioned for recovery and growth than their larger counterparts,” said Bev White, Chief Executive of Harvey Nash Group.

“This also extends to their ability to attract talent. In the past, employer brands were often strongly tied with physical assets, like impressive head offices and fantastic facilities. But Covid-19 has removed the pre-eminence of such things, and created a more level playing field for organizations of all sizes. It will be all to play for in 2021.”