Five top technology trends for SMEs

Written by Valda Energy


Updated: 19 July 2024
Staying on top of the latest trends in technology can be key to business growth. This is as true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as it is for large enterprises. 

According to a 2023 report from the SME-focused fintech SumUp, a majority of small business leaders believe that they can generate more revenue with access to the right tech. Yet research also shows that SMEs are more hesitant than larger organisations to invest in new technology. 

At Valda Energy, we want to support your business and show you how to take advantage of the key technologies affecting UK businesses. We’ve gathered five of the technology trends capable of transforming businesses and offer suggestions on which type of business could benefit most from each. 

AI & automation

AI (artificial intelligence) and automation technology are becoming increasingly common in modern businesses to streamline workflows, automate manual processes, enhance call centre operations and reduce errors. However, over half of UK businesses aren’t aware of the benefits of AI.  

Some of the methods AI is used more regularly currently are: 

  • Automating daily tasks such as email and invoicing. 
  • Assisting with writing, tone of voice, spelling and grammar checking.  
  • Integrating with content management systems to create manage and distribute content.  
  • Transcribing tool for meetings, videos and audio. 
  • Automatically creating websites.  
  • Analysing large amounts of data for useful insights into customers, competitors, and employees.  
  • Generating social media content ideas. 


These tools can save time, reduce errors, and free up workers to focus on other business activities. For this reason, artificial intelligence has been reported to potentially save business leaders 1,117 hours and employees 737 hours of work every year.  

Developing your own AI can be a costly and complex process, so SMEs are best off taking advantage of existing platforms that can be scaled to their required size. There are even some free and open-source software systems available. However, there are still plenty of legal rules to work around in the UK and be conscious of, like who owns the content generated by AI? 

Is this the right tech trend for my SME? 

Do you have time-consuming processes that could be automated? Or are you looking to gain insights into large amounts of data? AI may be able to save you crucial manual input hours. 

Human hand and robot hand touching screen


Deploying chatbots for customer support

With AI expected to drive the majority of customer interactions in the future, there is a growing interest in implementing chatbots to handle regular customer service interactions, enhance customer experience, and reduce support costs. In fact, 81% of businesses surveyed by Tidio either already deploy chatbots or intend to do so. Additionally, a study by Juniper Research revealed that companies utilising AI chatbots experienced an 80% increase in customer satisfaction. These statistics suggest that businesses that do not make use of chatbots may be left behind. 

Chatbots are particularly beneficial for SMEs, as they can help bridge the service gap for businesses with small teams. Using rapid data processing, chatbots automate responses meaning no customer has to wait for answers. They can interact with multiple users simultaneously and offer 24/7 availability to customers, ultimately enhancing the quality of service. 

For businesses looking for a cheaper alternative to AI-based chatbots, there are rule-based chatbots. These answer questions based on a bank of pre-determined answers but cannot answer anything outside of those parameters. 

Is this the right tech trend for my SME? 

If your business deals with a lot of similar customer enquiries, chatbots may be more than capable of fielding them. This could free up your employees’ time to help with more complicated issues. 


Woman on laptop with chatbot


The move to SaaS and the cloud 

According to research by Statistica in 2021, almost half (48%) of British businesses use some form of cloud service. One major cloud-based technology trend is the rise of SaaS (or Software as a Service), which allows SMEs to access the same powerful tools as larger companies. 

SaaS provides access to various IT services through the cloud, enabling users to log in from anywhere at any time. This convenience creates new opportunities for SMEs to collaborate and stay productive. 

That’s not the only benefit of SaaS for SMEs. They also save costs for SMEs, as the software is supplied and managed remotely, eliminating the need for server maintenance. SaaS services typically operate on a pay-as-you-go subscription model with no significant upfront fees, making them a more cost effective solution for SMEs. 

Is this the right tech trend for my SME? 

Is your business undergoing rapid growth or change? If so, the configurable, flexible and scalable qualities of SaaS solutions could be well suited to you. 

Man on phone with cloud technology


Cashless payments

In 2022, cash was used for only 19% of all payments made in the UK, while cards accounted for over 85%. As customers become more comfortable with cashless payments, businesses are also recognising the benefits of making the switch. 

Moving to cashless payments provides businesses with faster, more efficient payment processes, making it easier to manage their finances and offering the added security of having less cash on the premises.  

New cashless payment methods are also on the horizon with the increasing adoption of biometric payments, such as voice ID or fingerprint scanning. SMEs aiming to stay ahead of the competition may want to consider adopting these methods as the move to being a cashless society pushes ahead. 

Setting up cashless payment systems is easy and cost-effective, but there are charges for processing card payments and potential susceptibilities to fraud. However, retailers need to evaluate whether taking on these costs outweighs not offering card payments. 

Is this the right tech trend for my SME? 

Due to transaction limits on cashless payments, this tech is best suited to any industry where businesses rely on taking frequent small transactions. 

Woman paying on card machine with phone


An increased focus on cybersecurity

As going digital becomes more of a necessity for UK businesses in the 21st century, the threat of cyber-attacks and data breaches has grown. According to a report from the UK Government, 50% of businesses reported experiencing a cyber security breach or attack in 2023/24. The average cost to resolve these incidents for small businesses was £1,205, while for medium and large businesses, it averaged £10,830. 

These statistics highlight the importance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to use technology to protect against cyber attacks as well as enhance their business performance. It is recommended that SMEs also implement practices for backup and disaster recovery when it happens. Other key actions SMEs can do to keep data safe include regular software updates, strengthening system passwords and installing anti-virus software. 

The cost of cybersecurity systems can vary from relatively inexpensive to expert-level defence from cybersecurity firms. With 60% of small companies going out of business within six months of a cyber attack, it is the safer and more financially beneficial option for businesses than the cost of doing nothing.  

Is this the right tech trend for my SME? 

Yes! As the statistics show, all SMEs should be increasing their focus on cybersecurity. Be sure you have a good cybersecurity strategy in place before you take advantage of any other new tech. 

Cyber security


Cloud, AI, SaaS, chatbots, cybersecurity: although these technologies can seem intimidating, they can all reap benefits for SMEs. These tech trends give smaller businesses access to some of the same powerful solutions as enterprises at less cost and complexity than ever before.   

Before deciding which – if any – of these trends you’d like to implement into your small business, we recommend getting more information on them from trade bodies, at trade events, or by participating in local business networking events. The experiences of others who have adopted new tech trends, or the guidelines provided by a relevant trade association, can be valuable sources of knowledge when considering your own options.