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Digital technology adoption will be a key driver

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are expected to lead the economy out of its current economic downturn and digital adoption will be a key driver to their growth.

On Thursday 16 March, Humber SME leaders demonstrated their willingness to contribute to the economy by gathering to share ideas at the HEY Growth Hub hosted Innovation & Technology Roundtable and learn how they can grow their business through digital adoption.

While digital tools offer many opportunities to SMEs, the choices can be overwhelming and many businesses of this size don’t have the technology expertise on staff.

The Innovation & Technology Roundtable was designed to demystify the latest tech tools, including ChatGPT, to help businesses create a road map for digital adoption.

Keynote Speaker, Mark Evans-Smith, co-founder of The Edge Hub, spoke of the need to be resilient and brave in undertaking new endeavours and embracing innovative technologies.

“We are in an era of rapid change. While it can be daunting, either you adapt or be left behind by the competition,” he said.

Leon McQuade of Think Cloud, Helen Gill of Hello U and Geoffrey Bye of the HEY Growth Hub demonstrated ChatGPT plus AI Presenter generated Digital Human avatars that showcased how SMEs can adopt innovative technologies.

Mark Harraway, of Shutters4Hull, joined the roundtable because his business has already reaped significant rewards from digital marketing and he wanted to explore other areas of the business that could be improved through digital tools.

Mr Harraway improved his Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which is the practice of improving a business’ ranking in Google searches, by strategically using key search terms.

When he made the changes, his Shutters4’s ranking rose dramatically, as did its sales.

He now wants to improve his customer journey to make it as frictionless as possible.

Technology experts at the roundtable offered suggestions and Mr Harraway signed up for the #GrowMySME Digital Catalyst programme which offers fully funded 1-2-1 support from technology specialists for Humber businesses.

The programme is now in its second phase after already helping more than 100 local businesses grow through digital adoption.

Grayton Engineering took part in phase one and Richard Marshall, its managing director, was delighted with the results.

He said: “The assessment blew my mind. The opportunities for improvement were huge.”

Through the support of their technology advisor, Grayton adopted an inventory scanning system and new communications system to better link the team and clients across the country.

“Because I joined the programme, the company now moves faster than it ever has before,” added Marshall.

The programme offers up to 12 hours of support and advice which includes an assessment of the business’ digital maturity and a clear road map for adoption of the right tools for the business.

The advice is bespoke to each business and is objective and independent.

Applications for Digital Catalyst are open now. The programme, which will be the last to receive ERDF funding, runs through May.

You can find out more and register here.

Catalyst is part of the HEY Growth Hub’s #GrowMySME programme and it is delivered by Winning Moves.