How SMEs are Tackling the Skills Gap by Going Beyond Borders

Kevin Gilroy

The last blog explored how SMEs are adopting technology internally. In this blog, we look atBusinessman using tablet computer another key research finding – and another route to success — partnerships and networks.

If you ask an SME business owner or senior executive about strategy, you are likely to hear about more than investing in technology, expanding into new markets, and escalating customer demands. Understanding how people think and act is a perennial challenge. Today, winning the hearts and minds of employees as well as customers and business partners is essential for SMEs that want to thrive in a globalized economy.

In fact, some of the most successful businesses have a relentless focus on people development and their organization’s culture. They prioritize internal communication and collaboration, recruitment, training, and talent management, and they ensure that they have the right skill sets – now and in the future.

In the Oxford Economics, Equipped to Compete study, 2,100 SME executives were questioned on the human factors behind business success. The study revealed that 35% of respondents recognized the need to create a culture of innovation – and that this is a strategic priority of transformation efforts.

However, oweHOthe research also indicates that nearly half (46%) are actively hiring employees to support growth activities, yet 39% are finding it more difficult to recruit people with the right skills for their business. As a result, SMEs are increasingly looking at local market partnerships as well as online networks to plug skill shortages related to cloud computing (34%) and data analysis (32%).  Larger companies (US$500 million to US$750 million in revenue) were especially likely to be concerned about the lack of analytics skills.

Many SMEs are tapping third-party resources as a way to add the digital skills they need to support growth. Two-thirds of larger SMEs are forming partnerships with suppliers and other vendors in foreign markets as a strategy for expanding their global presence; North American companies are most likely to pursue this strategy. And manufacturers, who face the most daunting staffing difficulties among the industries surveyed, is partnering with overseas suppliers and vendors (61%) as well as collaborating online with other firms (59%) – at a higher rate than its peers in other industries.

The SMEs: Equipped to Compete study shows that SMEs can rise to the challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and grow market share in the globalized economy. However, to do so effectively means managing the human factors.  In addition to weaving technology into their cultures they will need to engage employees, use third parties effectively, and fill skills gaps to achieve sustained success.

Click here to download the Human Factor infographic, or visit our SME Community Experts website to read more on this topic or other topics in the Equipped to Compete blog series.



awareness , SME