NEW YORK, Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- For
middle-market and small businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic is
highlighting the vital importance of investing in new technology,
facilitating remote work, and maintaining the tech-savvy workforce
needed to make it all happen, according to a new survey conducted
by The Harris Poll¹ for CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT).
The survey found that most small and
midsized businesses managed to stay open when the pandemic hit
(89% small business [SB], 97% middle market [MM]).
But that often meant working in a limited capacity with reduced
hours, offerings, or workforce (47% SB, 62% MM), as safety concerns
and lockdowns are likely among the factors preventing normal
Compared to a year ago, significantly more middle market
businesses strongly agree that continuous technological investment
is a business need (61% vs. 47% in 2019). That conviction is also
strong in the small business community, where 81% agree
technological investment is an ongoing business requirement, the
"The resiliency and flexibility that technology can deliver to
midsized and small businesses has been proven convincingly by the
COVID-19 outbreak," said David
Harnisch, president of CIT's Commercial
"These survey results further demonstrate that business leaders
have taken that lesson to heart and are focused on making
technology a fundamental part of their 'tomorrow thinking'," he
Tech investments – before and after
Most executives wish that they'd invested more in technology
over the past 12 months (68% SB, 94% MM). In fact, more than 3 in 4
middle market executives (76%) believe investments in technology
would have helped their company fare better during the pandemic.
For small businesses, roughly half felt similarly (46%).
At this point, however, there's little question about how
important technology will be in the business world going forward,
with large majorities of small and midsized business
executives saying tech is key to their survival (79% SB, 92%
And they seem determined not to repeat the mistake of
under-investing. Virtually all are planning to invest as much or
more in their business over the next 12 months as compared to the
past year (84% of SB and MM combined). However, only 15% of small
businesses say they plan to invest less this coming year, which may
be due to financial constraints resulting from the pandemic, the
"Small businesses don't always have the financial resources that
larger enterprises often enjoy," said Ken
Martin, managing director of CIT's Small Business
Solutions group. "In cases where investments are imperative,
borrowing or leasing may be the right solution to acquiring the
technology needed to remain competitive."
Making it easier to work remotely
When it comes to tech upgrades, investments that make it easier
for employees to work from outside the office are a clear priority.
Over the next 12 months, about 7 in 10 middle market executives
(71%) and nearly a third of small business leaders (31%) who plan
to invest will spend on technology that facilitates remote
"Reliable remote work capability is essential for today's
businesses, large or small," said Denise
Menelly, CIT's executive vice president and head of
Technology and Operations. "It's not just a matter of convenience.
Businesses that empower employees to work remotely have a clear
competitive advantage over those who don't."
Once these remote working capabilities are upgraded, they're
likely to remain a common facet of many workplaces even after the
pandemic. Approximately a quarter of small businesses that
transitioned employees to working remotely to stay open during the
pandemic expect (28%)—and want (25%)—this change to remain
permanent after COVID-19 subsides, with about 40% of middle market
executives that made the change expecting (43%) and wanting (42%)
the same thing.
Among those who can operate with remote employees, about half of
small business executives (53%) and more than three-quarters of
middle market executives (76%) say their companies plan to allow
employees to regularly work remotely on a permanent basis after the
More than half of middle market executives (53%) strongly agree
that having the ability for their employees to work remotely would
help them grow their company, compared to only 37% who said the
same in 2019.
Valuing a tech-savvy workforce
These trends are putting a premium on a tech-savvy workforce,
which is needed more than ever to leverage technology both to
support customers and to collaborate with colleagues.
A majority of executives see retaining employees as critical to
business survival (86% SB, 85% MM). While most believe their
current workforce is tech-savvy enough to keep up with digital
transformation (82% SB, 90% MM), businesses are substantially more
likely than last year to say companies need to focus on hiring
tech-savvy talent (79% SB in 2020 vs. 69% in 2019; 94% MM in 2020
vs. 83% in 2019).
The CIT-sponsored survey of leaders at U.S. middle-market and
small businesses was designed to illuminate the intersection of
technology and talent – two of the most important factors driving
today's businesses. It is the second year that CIT has worked with
The Harris Poll to sponsor the survey and release the findings.
CIT is a leading national bank focused on
empowering businesses and personal savers with the financial
agility to navigate their goals. CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT) is a
financial holding company with over a century of experience and
operates a principal bank subsidiary, CIT Bank, N.A. (Member FDIC,
Equal Housing Lender). The company's commercial banking segment
includes commercial financing, community association banking,
middle market banking, equipment and vendor financing, factoring,
railcar financing, treasury and payments services, and capital
markets and asset management. CIT's consumer banking segment
includes a national direct bank and regional branch network.
Discover more at cit.com/about.
¹ ©2020 CIT Group Inc. All rights reserved. CIT and the CIT logo
are registered trademarks of CIT Group Inc. The 2020 Technology and
Talent Survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf
of CIT from June 17 to June 29, 2020
among 304 executives at middle market companies (defined as
companies with 100-9,999 employees) and 304 executives at small
businesses (defined as companies with 1-99 employees). Data from
the small business and middle market segments were weighted where
necessary by employee size to bring them into line with their
actual proportion in the population. For more on the survey
methodology, see the survey white papers at
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SOURCE CIT Group Inc.