Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) across all market segments have been hit hard by COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdowns. The impact of COVID-19 on SMBs has been documented by the SMB Group, a technology, analysis, and consulting firm focused on technology adoption and trends in the SMB space. SMBs: Navigating a Path Forward includes its July survey results exploring how SMBs are adapting to the shifting realities of the “next normal” to get their businesses back on track.

The survey covered decision-makers and influencers in more than 750 SMB (1-1,000 employee) and midmarket (1,000-2,500 employee) businesses. The survey was fielded from mid-June to early July 2020, a period critical to the trajectory and impact of the virus that is constantly changing.

The negative fallout from COVID-19 for most SMBs and midmarket companies continues apace. The survey found 78% of SMBs say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their businesses, up slightly from75% in a March survey. Overall, smaller businesses have suffered more than larger ones and 69% or more of respondents in all industries report negative impact, but severity varies greatly by industry. Businesses in the hospitality, education, and retail industries are most likely to report extremely negative impact, while those in construction, utilities, and financial industries are least likely to do so. In addition, 38% of businesses temporarily closed and have since reopened, while 18% of businesses have closed and have yet to reopen.

The top three changes businesses have already made are to replace “in-person” meetings and events with video conferencing; changed the layout of physical locations, and, tied for number three, increased use of digital marketing channels, created virtual service offerings, and increased use of digital sales channels. The top actions businesses are planning to take are to increase use of digital sales channels, develop new products and services, and implement scenario planning.

Cloud solutions continue to prove their value in helping businesses to weather this storm. In every category, 83% or more of respondents said cloud applications have been extremely or moderately valuable in helping to weather the COVID-19 crisis and 37% said that COVID-19 made them more likely to select a cloud solution for new application investments.

Among those with work from home programs, 52% indicated that such programs have had a positive effect on employee productivity, and 61% plan to spend more to better equip work from home employees. Customer-facing applications—sales, ecommerce, and customer service as the top three areas that SMBs said they will need to invest in to recover and prepare for growth.

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