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Failure to innovate threatens to put a third of SMEs out of business by 2020

Johannesburg, 19 Oct 2018
Read time 2min 10sec

* Global Ricoh research uncovers key focus areas for a thriving future: customers, culture and technology.
* Fifty-nine percent not ready for the digital disruption taking place in their sector.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are in danger of falling victim to digital disruption, regulatory requirements and economic shifts that are fundamentally changing their markets. According to new research commissioned by Ricoh, 34% of the 3 300 SME leaders surveyed from across 23 countries, including South Africa, say they will go out of business by 2020 if they fail to innovate in response to these changes.

With 56% trying to increase profit and 54% grow their operations, SMEs must be ready to challenge traditional assumptions about growth.

Although 92% recognise the impact of digital disruption in their sector, 59% are not yet in a position to take advantage of its benefits. Furthermore, in the next two years, a quarter predict they will be unable to react swiftly enough to changing government regulation and 20% to the growth of automation.

Jacques van Wyk, CEO of Ricoh South Africa, says: "While the research is something of a wake-up call, the good news is that business leaders and owners here locally are acutely aware of the change happening in their markets and of the need to innovate. We would advise that now is the time for businesses across South Africa and the African continent to take a proactive stance and face disruption head-on. Any business that misjudges how to adapt their processes and strategies risks leaving their future open to chance."

The research uncovers three key areas where SMEs should be applying technology to help focus their attention:

1. SMEs must build closer customer relationships by using technology to facilitate and inform product and service development: 54% recognise they need to develop ongoing relationships with their customers.

2. SMEs must use smarter workplace technology to reshape processes, improve agility and make efficiencies; 74% of leaders say technology helps their ability to innovate.

3. SMBs must foster the full potential of talented individuals by using technology to empower employees and develop creative thinking; 42% want to encourage safe spaces for experimentation to see if ideas are successful.

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Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces using innovative technologies and services, enabling individuals to work smarter. For more than 80 years, Ricoh has been driving innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ended March 2017, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,028 billion yen (approximately 18.2 billion USD).

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Ricoh Simone John (011) 723 5000
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