SMEs Are Enamored with Remote Work Results. But Can They Fend Off the Risks?

In a new survey released by Chubb, small and mid-sized businesses are eager to keep working in a digital landscape, despite the cyber risks.
By: | January 8, 2021

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of the virus forced companies and businesses alike to primarily rely on the working both remotely and digitally. Being forced into a default digital setting provided new opportunities and incredible risk for the small and mid-sized business sector.

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As people said goodbye to in-person contact and became accustomed to constant screen interaction, risk was bound to follow. Many businesses with a lack of technological understanding suffered and the risk of cyber security threats grew. Where does this leave businesses who want and need to continue utilizing digital aspects to ensure they stay viable?

Despite these new risks, a recent survey found that small to mid-sized businesses prefer working digitally.

Chubb recently released, “Digital Business Accelerated,” a survey among small and mid-sized businesses that focused on business response to “an evolving digital-first marketplace.”

Partnering with Accenture, Chubb’s survey report included four trends found that small and mid-sized businesses are prioritizing that highlight their shift, or desire, to digital operations.

1) Understanding Digital-First Communication

Around half of survey participants are eager to perfect their on-demand delivery services, as this is what customers expect with an almost complete, if not total, digital experience. Human reliance on technology has made it so that the expectations for businesses is well over satisfactory.

Eighty-six percent of businesses concluded that in order to uphold a successful reputation, it is necessary to meet customer demands no matter the product or service, complete customer request from any location and appease the needs of customers among multiple generations by “prioritizing tailored products and services.”

As businesses are held to higher standards, a misstep in providing excellent customer service could lead to a reputational risk incident.

2) Utilizing the Power of Data and Analytics

“The cloud” has become a household term, despite people not always understanding its full capabilities. Commonly known as a large virtual storage space, cloud capacity has the ability to be as large or as modest as a business needs.

Majority of businesses have found success using the cloud. Chubb found that not only is investing in cloud technology businesses’ top priority, but 76 percent have confirmed that “investing in AI is their top three year-year priority.”

Despite excitement to implement the cloud, considerable risk stems from businesses having a lack of knowledge of the technology itself. This leads to the obvious risk of cyber-attacks.

3) Supporting the Transition to a New Workforce

With the distribution of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna, normalcy will be introduced to us once again, eventually. However, it’s unlikely that we will ever return to what life was once like before the pandemic.

In terms of technology use, businesses were already utilizing the capabilities of virtual operation. The pandemic merely exacerbated this need; businesses had to adapt to full utilization of technology or risk losing their livelihood completely.

As businesses think about sustaining success in a post-pandemic world, the increased technological dependency will remain a key component for businesses. Chubb’s research concluded that 84 percent of businesses are investing in providing technological skillset training, especially for employees of various generational groups.

Digital solutions coincide with a level of flexibility that businesses were not accustomed to before the pandemic began. This produces some risk, as the flexibility of remote work equates to less control for businesses.

4) Establishing Presence in the Global Market

The utilization of technology has allowed businesses to foster connections on a global scale, which many business owners believe could be “a key driver of future success.” Seventy two percent of businesses see this level of collaboration as essential to the vitality of their respective operations.

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Almost half of the businesses surveyed identified global market connection as one of their greatest challenges, as the heavy reliance on technology in business relationships can produce a considerable amount of cyber security risk.

As businesses set their sights on achieving new initiatives, there is still a sizable amount of unknown territory.

Despite the expected challenge and risk, small and mid-sized businesses still look towards implementing data and technology. This will enable businesses to efficiently deliver product and become more resilient in a ever-changing market. &

Emma Brenner is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]