Last time in our Going Global series, we discussed how the changing landscapes of our online and political worlds directly impact success for SMEs, and how we need to engage with new technologies to stay ahead of the competition. But what if the technology you need to succeed simply doesn’t exist?
Our Going Global Report explores what happens when existing technology is not up to scratch, interviewing some of the top SMEs from The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 to discuss how they invest in building bespoke tools to help them get ahead.
Making data management accessible
Effectively processing your data is an unmistakable competitive advantage: 59% of SMEs interviewed believe better data targeting is a top opportunity for the next 3-5 years. It’s surprising, then, to find that many of these companies feel tech giants are letting them down instead of lifting them up, quoting expensive contracts, costly set-up fees and uncertainty on whether or not the product will be a good fit for their needs. For a brand that is creating a totally new business model, existing tools and partnerships are difficult to map into company growth, which leads to either trying to fit together as best you can, or creating something that evolves as your company does.
At Croud, our business model is based on this idea that with a unique approach to business, you need a unique approach to tech. Making data-led decisions becomes accessible when you create the system from scratch; and this approach is only intensified when you work with overseas partners. As an example, our network of freelancers come from around the world – by building a bespoke platform, we can then integrate the different ways of working globally into a single, cohesive framework.
Visions of the future
Proprietary tech doesn’t just make data processing easier, it can also make it smarter. Many of our interviewees discussed the impact bespoke tech has on smoothing out supply chains across borders, which can have both immediate and long-term implications on your success. Red Paddle Board Company CEO John Hibbard uses this approach for his operations:
“We built a bespoke forecasting system using the Microsoft Sharepoint architecture. This has allowed all our distributors around the globe to give us 6-12 months views on their requirements… this future vision is now central to our requirement for robust planning to avoid stock outage and missed deadlines.”
Off-the-shelf products often simply cannot compete with the flexibility of a custom-built system. And that’s something that may alleviate the concerns of the 27% of SMEs that see supply chain issues as a top threat in the coming years, no doubt due to the shifting relationships between Britain and the rest of the world. Our last article discussed the uncertainty revolving around Brexit and the British brand and how SMEs need to innovate to move past this obstacle – what better way to innovate than to create your own problem-solving technology?
Development is an ongoing process
Of course, technology and its role in your business is not static, and a continually evolving approach is necessary to maintain your competitive edge. Don’t be scared off by the initial investment of time and money into innovation; SMEs using data effectively across their business expect an annual growth rate 19% higher than the average over the next five years, and proprietary tech often plays a vital role in helping SMEs achieve this goal.
FreestyleXtreme’s Shaun Laughlin believes that the control over his system that bespoke tech brings is what allows the brand to respond rapidly and operate competitively: a testament to how this approach can extend beyond data management and processing and drive enduring overseas success.
For this and more insight into how innovation can lead your brand to success overseas, download the full Going Global Report.