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How taking advantage of disruptive technologies can get you ahead

New technologies can help SMEs operate faster and smarter in a competitive world, says Santander’s Chief Technology Officer, Ignacio Manu Noain

With the news that Apple is about to invest more than $3 billion in Beats Electronics, and Chancellor George Osborne announcing funding of £30 million to create a national centre for 3D printing in Coventry, it's clear that technology is big business. But you don’t need to be a billion-dollar company to profit from cutting-edge systems.

Forward-thinking SMEs are boosting their business potential by embracing the latest ‘disruptive technology’ trends, from cloud to wearable IT devices. “At Santander, we know the power of investing in innovation”, says Santander’s Chief Technology Officer, Ignacio Manu Noain, “which is why we actively support SMEs eager to venture into tech’s brave new world.”

Adopting disruptive technologies

Disruptive technologies can give SMEs an edge in a competitive environment by generating new markets for products, services or processes.

“An existing market is displaced by a new product or service that grows revenue, reduces costs and enhances customer experience all at once,” says Ignacio Manu Noain, Santander’s Chief Technology Officer. 

“A classic example is the way that typewriters were substituted by the disruptive technology of computers and printers. One of the biggest trends in technology now is speed. Services such as cloud computing, wearable technology and 3D printing allow fast results and low-cost entry for SMEs.”

Adding value

With so many options, choosing the right technology can be difficult. “The key is to focus on what really adds value to your company,” says Ignacio. “The correct use of technology has a clear benefit, giving competitive advantages to the business and prompting positive customer reaction,” he adds. 

This focus on technology means successful SMEs are expanding the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) in order to react quickly to new technological opportunities. “Traditionally, IT was a back-office function but now CIOs have a much broader role,” says Ignacio. “IT needs be involved in revenue generation by understanding how new technologies can help the business. That might mean using technology to understand the customer better, to enhance online business, or to integrate new products.”

Funding for tech

Having a clear understanding of what a new technology can add to your business will help you to make the best case for investment. As well as approaching your bank, the Government is encouraging innovation through Enterprise Capital Funds offered by the British Business Bank Investment Programme run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Innovative banking

Santander is using both disruptive and sustaining technologies to innovate services and improve customer care. “For Santander, any technological change must be measured against security, service quality, customer requirements and reputational risk,” says Ignacio. “We operate prudence and a thorough analysis of viability when incorporating technological trends. The result is multiple, robust innovations: internet, tablet and mobile banking, social networks, electronic signatures, security improvements, hardware evolutions and new payment systems.”

The climate is ideal for SMEs to embrace new technologies – many of which will aid innovation and growth with the minimum upfront investment. Santander is able to support forward-thinking SMEs on their journey into this brave new world.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK