Nearly two out of three small business (SMB) leaders say change is the new constant in the workplace, according to our recent Adobe Future of Time 2022 study. From economic instability and inflation (70%) to climate change (58%) to COVID-19 variants (53%), SMB leaders have real-world concerns that affect their businesses—and the ability to adapt to these changes has become more important than ever.
Navigating constant change and uncertainty is complex, and SMB leaders can’t do it all alone. Business leaders tell me they need the right digital tools to manage supply chain issues, enable flexible work for employees, ensure they’re staying up to date on the latest sustainability requirements, spot and adjust to changing customer behaviors, and so much more. They relay that without the right digital tools, their ability to compete, innovate, be more productive, and collaborate effectively across locations and platforms is at stake.
Change in the Workplace
Our research found that global uncertainties have made it difficult to focus at work and almost half of SMB leaders feel unproductive at work when they learn of a negative news announcement. In fact, they get caught up in “doomscrolling” through negative news and lose an average of three hours per day on news consumption compared to a year ago.
At the same time, more than half of SMB leaders say work is a welcome distraction.
Innovation Being Fueled by Uncertainty
Necessity is the mother of invention and I’ve seen SMB leaders rise to the occasion. Our research also found that seven in ten SMB leaders say global uncertainty is forcing their businesses to innovate and find new ways to collaborate. It’s responsible for sharpening their entrepreneurial mindset and innovating in their position.
This innovation can come in many ways, and for a third of SMB leaders, it’s manifested in adopting new technologies or upgrading existing ones for employees. The benefits have been immediate because more than two in three employees say they rely on digital tools for peace of mind at work in the face of constant change.
Healthcare company Regeneron believes that technology should all be for the purpose of supporting people. Documentation is critical in the pharmaceutical and medical fields, so Regeneron implemented Adobe Acrobat Sign which reduced contract offer processing time by 96%, from 2 hours to 4.8 minutes, leaving their employees more time for creative problem-solving and collaboration.
SMB leaders are continuing to rise to the challenge, and expect that future investments in digital tools will enhance productivity (86%), manage uncertainty (75%), collaboration (81%), innovation (84%), and retention (72%).
Adobe Unveils New Small Business Tools
Nearly 70% of SMBs now depend on digital solutions to do more with less amidst labor shortages. Processing a paper document consumes a lot of time, which in turn translates to money. For SMBs with limited resources, the cost is high in both human and financial capital.
To overcome these bottlenecks in small business operations, we’ve announced new capabilities across Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Experience Cloud. The new features will span applications such as Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Commerce and Adobe Marketo Engage. This means less time spent on signing contracts to converting documents into a web form.
We’re also introducing free web-based tools to help small businesses take action quickly. This includes watermarking, cropping, redaction, OCR, stamping, certifying, and numbering pages. The new features also give small businesses branded agreement templates with a company’s name, logo, and custom URL in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
When it comes to making documents readily available anywhere, businesses can now convert any document into a web form. This allows these documents to be inserted into a website as well as a shared link to collect data and signatures.
If you have many employees and customers, Adobe also offers bulk signature support. This automates sending a single document to multiple recipients to sign individually. If payment is part of the process, we have an option for small businesses to send payment along with the documents. Award-winning theater company Atelier Theatre Actuel uses Adobe Acrobat Sign to get contracts signed for nearly 400 workers every month faster and more securely, proving the efficiency of this offering.
Embracing Technology to Manage Uncertainty
While uncertainty is part of doing business for entrepreneurs of any size, small businesses can be impacted more than larger enterprises. The good news is today digital technology has a wide range of tools to improve communications, document processing, finance, HR, and virtually every other aspect of business operations.
For small business leaders, the key is embracing these digital tools, adopting them, and introducing new levels of efficiency to manage the uncertainty of the world they are operating in.
By Claire Darley, Adobe VP of Digital Media Field Sales and Worldwide Customer Support