With an increasingly uncertain Brexit emerging, UK SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) exporters with a “progressive” and data-driven mindset are most confident about future business success.
A study by marketing agency Croud on 100 leaders of exporting SMEs, including companies such as UNiDAYS, Monty Bojangles and Kit for Kids, looked to shed light on the biggest challenges and opportunities smaller companies expect to face in the run-up to, and after, Brexit.
With all businesses in the study actively trading overseas, it was no shock that nearly two-thirds (63%) of British exporters cited Brexit as one of the biggest challenges they’ll face within the next 18 months.
Just one in four (25%), meanwhile, were optimistic that splitting from the European Union would result in increased access to the global economy, despite opportunities for trade with non-EU countries a weaker pound attracting trade overseas.
But expectations aren’t all grim among SME marketers, in fact, the study suggests that those with a handle on their data are confident about their outlook.
Companies using data strategically across their businesses expect to see a 20% annual increase in growth over the next five years, 19% higher than those that don’t use data, while nearly eight of 10 (78%) believed a “proactive” approach to data management is important to gain a competitive advantage.
According to the survey, the key opportunities for progressive data use lie in technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and automation, with seven out 10 of those SMEs classed as ‘data experts’ seeing these as key for driving business growth in the next three to five years.
“SMEs are the backbone of British enterprise and 2018 is a year of unprecedented change, with new technology accelerating, GDPR coming into force, and Brexit on the horizon,” said Luke Smith, co-founder & CEO of Croud.
“While most agreed that Brexit and regulatory changes present challenges, data presents an opportunity for SMEs to realise further growth – for example, 81% of SMEs are embracing data-driven marketing to execute campaigns at a global scale to drive serious ROI.
“It was no surprise that the most forward-thinking companies from a technology point of view are also the most optimistic about their futures.”