SME business news – Q3 2017: Workplace habits, GDPR, and the AI revolution

19 September 2017

Keep your finger on the pulse of significant industry changes and the biggest news affecting SMEs across the UK with our quarterly round up of business bulletins. We’ve rounded up the third quarter of 2017’s hottest topics from July to September, some of which may impact upon your own business.

It’s important to stay on top of the ever-changing business world. We know it can be tough when you’re busy running your own SME, so we’ve made it easier with a collection of news cuttings that highlight the most significant changes affecting the business world’s third quarter as we approach 2017’s finishing line.

New debt recovery regulations active from 1 October

B2C businesses, and businesses with services employed by sole traders, could be subjected to new debt recovery and financial dispute resolution regulations from next month. The new Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims will go live on 1 October 2017, and have been designed to speed up financial disputes, and reduce the number of cases which go to court.

Under the new regulations, creditors will be required to demonstrate compliance before instigating court proceedings to recover debts from individuals and sole traders. This is part of the civil justice system’s ongoing endeavour to encourage early dispute resolution, without utilising court time and public money.

Small businesses with an established debt recovery and financial resolution process may have to revisit their current system to ensure it meets the incoming regulations. The major change to the process is the introduction of another layer of protocol. From 1 October, businesses chasing debts from individual customers and sole traders will have to oversee a 30-day period of wait between the Letter of Claim being sent to the debtor and the court proceedings being issued.

Alongside this extra layer of administration for SMEs, it could affect budgeting – potentially increasing the wait for payment by an extra 30 days. For businesses which often rely on chasing outstanding debts, this could necessitate a slight change in approach or strategy.

Resolution and recovery of business-to-business debts will not be affected by the incoming changes, as these will still be governed by the existing Practice Direction for Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols (PDPAC).

The GDPR – Are you compliant?

As the date for the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is fast approaching, SME news sites are focussing on news about the regulation. A big question, SMEs are asking is “am I exempt from the GDPR?”

SMEs should reframe the question as “how can I comply?” SMEWeb.com wrote about the compliance issues facing SMEs back in July. Put simply, compliance for all businesses is mandatory, and failure to do so will be met with weighty fines. SMEWeb summarised the GDPR and the important issues surrounding it, including exemptions, its impact on SMEs, and how you can comply with the regulations.

In early September, they revisited the topic, reinforcing the importance of being GDPR—compliant. This is an incredibly important issue, so make use of our GDPR compliance guide to ensure you’ve done the legwork before May 2018.

 

UK workers spend just 3.7 days out of 5 actually working

As schools and universities were in the midst of their well-earned breaks, BMMagazine.co.uk reported that Brits were holidaying in the form of 122 minutes a day procrastinating at work.

Regular visits to social media sites, extended coffee breaks and other non-work activities mean that the UK’s workforce spends only 3.7 days out of 5 actually doing what they’re contracted to do. As a result, these diversions are taking a toll on companies’ expenses.

The news notes that since 27% of workers’ time is spent not working, their employers are handing out an average of £8,851.14 for every employee dragging their heels. Social media is the main big time sink, with an average of 37 minutes a day being spent on these platforms, with another 33 minutes daily surfing other websites.

Elsewhere, a total of 15 minutes is spent making coffee, while toilet breaks take up 12 minutes a day, with 62% of workers admitting they do these out of boredom. While the news might seem shocking, the article makes mention of the benefits of downtime.

SMEs set to spearhead the AI revolution

 

Growth Business reported in September that SMEs show real optimism about artificial intelligence and its scope for giving businesses a real boost.

Automation and AI is an increasingly hot topic in the business world, and the latest news suggests that SMEs and artificial intelligence go hand in hand. Larger businesses, on the other hand, tend to be more sceptical about the technology’s potential.

Oliver Gaymond, engineering VP for Android Wear and Google Fit, points to the impact of YouTube and how an entirely new job sector has been created as a result of the site’s incredible popularity. It’s not difficult to see how the job market will change if SMEs embrace potential advancements in technology.

The Adecco Group’s Alex Fleming points to the inherent fearlessness of SMEs as a reason for the research’s findings. Seemingly hardwired to act on change, the SME model is naturally geared towards the use of new technologies, and could benefit massively from the employment of AI.

Additionally, both Gaymond and Steve Dan, founder and CEO of tech start-up Amplified Robot, believe employing AI tech is integral to competition, gaining further exposure and developing products. It speaks to the entrepreneurial spirit of SMEs, and is undoubtedly a boon for growth.

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