Building the foundations of a sustainable innovation strategy

Modern customer demands and evolving technology capability mean smaller businesses are seeking digital transformation as eagerly as their enterprise counterparts.  


In the UK, for example, a recent survey by the Federation of Small Business (FSB) suggests that in the past three years, 69% of companies have either brought an entirely new product to market (25%), improved existing products (38%) or improved or introduced new internal or customer-facing processes (25%).  


According to the FSB’s survey, three closely related factors trigger most of this innovation: the need to increase profitability, diversify revenue streams and boost resilience. 


Findings like these closely track research undertaken by Cisco, which suggests that 68% of SMBs worldwide are actively investing in the kind of digital transformation projects that enable innovation.  


SMBs are using an expanding range of technologies to support their innovation agendas. For example, IDC, the research firm, predicts that 30% will shift half of their core workloads to the cloud in the next two years to increase agility and resilience.  


In addition, by 2026, IDC expects 40% to adopt a data-driven approach to measuring business value, including customer behaviour, sustainability and productivity. 


Customer-facing companies also have the option of investing in live commerce enabled by streaming video on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Not only is live commerce the new frontier: it’s also a proven way of connecting with younger buyers.  


IDC expects that by 2027, two-thirds of SMBs will invest more in automation. Solutions include fraud detection, warehouse robotics, image and speech recognition, natural language processing and machine learning.  


One thing unites these routes to innovation: resilient supporting technology. According to IDC successful innovation typically depends on foundations involving “a formal digitalisation strategy, a technology road map and effective governance”.  


Cisco believes that these strategies and roadmaps should be underpinned by tools that have the potential to grow alongside the customer’s business, including: 


  • In-house networks that offer fast, reliable and secure connectivity, seamlessly integrating cloud services, on-premises computing and remote users. 
  • High-quality tools that remove the friction from collaboration between remote workers, partners and customers. 
  • Security countermeasures that keep data safe by addressing the full implications of remote working and increasing reliance on cloud technologies. 



And there’s one more important requirement: ease of use. Across Europe, over half of SMBs report skills shortages. In the UK, 93% of companies say that supply of skilled IT professionals isn’t keeping up with demand.   


In response, Cisco is working hard to deliver technology that is easy to deploy, execute and manage in organisations where IT talent is in short supply. The end-user dashboard for Meraki, Cisco’s platform for cloud-managed networks, is a good example. Designed with small IT teams in mind, it makes the job of staying on top of networks easier than ever. 


Cisco supports the quest for innovation with a comprehensive portfolio of security, collaboration and networking products that offer best-in-class threat protection, market-leading performance and highly competitive pricing. To learn more about Cisco’s approach, check out its solutions here. 

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