The coronavirus crisis has sent home most of the UK SME workforce. Over half of us are now used to working from home and enjoying it, making us wonder if we’ll ever want to go back to the ‘real’ office ever again.
In fact, we are more used to having virtual meetings and discussions over our laptops rather than in an office.
We wanted to investigate how the pandemic has impacted SMEs? What were the priorities and what has been the results? Have they had to make a larger investment in software purchasing because of COVID-19?
We asked 412 respondents (127 employees and 285 managers) from British SMEs (up to 250 employees) to tell us how they had adapted to this situation and what impact has COVID-19 had in their software buying decisions.
Skip to the bottom of the article for a more detailed methodology.
Highlights of the study:
SMEs forced to adapt their investment in software purchase
70% of decision-makers surveyed are directly involved in software purchases. When we asked them about how the pandemic had impacted their plans to invest in software during the year, 51% stated that the COVID-19 has forced them to invest in new software purchases.
Gartner estimates that IT spending will decrease by 8% this year from last year’s total budget.
John-David Lovelock, distinguished research vice president at Gartner:
“CIOs have moved into emergency cost optimization which means that investments will be minimised and prioritised on operations that keep the business running, which will be the top priority for most organisations through 2020.”
Remote desktop software, live chat software and video conferencing software are the three most popular software purchased by SMEs. The software above enables employees to work from home, therefore it is not surprising that these are the three most popular. It’s likely that companies hadn’t budgeted this spend in collaboration tools planned prior to the pandemic.
Most businesses had to reallocate their annual software budget and move the timeline forward for almost six months due to the pandemic.
Almost a third of them (27%) state that COVID-19 crisis impacted at least 50% of their planned software purchase between January and May.
The current situation means that their decisions in software buying have been adapted by the COVID-19 crisis, having had to bring it forward a few months and also allocate resources that maybe weren’t there at the beginning of the year.
Furthermore, the crisis has also meant that timing for software and implementation has been moved forward by at least 6 months for 35% of decision-makers in SMEs.
Investing in an additional layer of security is pivotal to help keep your business secure against attackers.
Since the beginning of the lockdown in the UK, more than a third of SMEs have been victims of a phishing attack, with 45% of those being specifically related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Price, a key factor when deciding on software
When asked about the key factors behind software purchase to decision-makers, price (58%) and ease of use (53%) are the two most important ones for them followed by free version/free trial (48%) and reviews (46%).
When asked the same question to employees, price is still the main factor (52%).
This is followed by both reviews and products that offer a free version/free trial (42%) and ease of use of the software (40%).
Over half of decision-makers in SMEs consider the purchase of software to be critical to the survival of the company. This helps understand the difference in answers between managers and employees.
Having to look for an investment in software has meant that ease of use is a feature sought after by managers.
With teams being remote it is important the new software is easy to understand. Employees can start using it without disrupting their work too much.
The value of online reviews
When we asked managers at what stage of software investigation they are at, most of them answered they have an idea of the software they need but they would need help with choosing the right one.
This is where reviews can help. In fact, 62% of people prefer to consult the opinions of other buyers rather than listen to experts or recommendations from acquaintances before deciding on buying a product.
Reviews can help to form a decision about purchasing software when looking for certain features.
Looking at online reviews is always a good way to hear about first-hand experiences from other users that may have the same needs as your company.
* Survey methodology
Data for the “Software Trends” study was collected in May 2020 from an online survey of 412 employees and small and medium-sized business owners whose operations could be carried out remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey data used for this article comes from 412 participants who qualified to answer. Among the 412 participants surveyed are 285 managers (management, senior manager, executive management and owner) who are involved in software decisions in their company as well as 127 employees without management and decision-making functions. The information in this article corresponds to the average of all surveyed participants.
Note: There were several answer options available for the graphics so that the total of the percentages exceeds 100%.