Trades turn to digital tools as workloads keep rising
7th December 2021 - UK trades firms are investing more in technology to stay on top of costs and manage the increase in demand they predict going into 2022, according to a study by field service software provider BigChange and independent research consultancy Opinium.
- Almost all UK trades businesses expected demand for their services to grow into 2022
- Increasing cost of materials, fuel and people to impact over two-thirds of firms negatively
- Technology spending growth is expected to outpace rise in employees and other investments
The study shows that 85 per cent of firms expect to be busier over the next 12 months, and nearly one-in-five (17 per cent) anticipate that workloads will at least double.
Expectations of growth are highest among building maintenance, facilities management, cleaning and waste management firms. At least 88 per cent of business leaders surveyed from these sectors said they expected workloads to increase going into 2022.
But growing demand doesn’t mean plain sailing in the year ahead. 73 per cent of respondents said increasing costs for materials and fuel would reduce their profitability in 2022, and 69 per cent said that the higher price of labour would negatively impact their finances.
Almost all (94 per cent) of the firms surveyed expected to increase technology spending in 2022 to help manage extra demand and rising costs. A quarter (23 per cent) say they will spend at least 50 per cent more on digital tools than in the last 12 months.
The median – or middle of the pack – firm expects to increase technology spending by 11 per cent in the next 12 months. Median firms plan to employ seven per cent more people and increase broader investment in their business by 10 per cent over the same period.
82 per cent of leaders told researchers that good practice in their sector now involved using digital systems to manage their businesses. More than half (54 per cent) said that operations should be automated and optimised within a single system.
Richard Warley, BigChange CEO, comments:
“Demand for trades and other services delivered by field-based employees is booming. This is clearly good news for the sector.”
“However, it also brings significant challenges. With costs spiralling, firms can’t afford to take on and train a proportionate number of new employees.
“Our study suggests that almost all trades businesses are now looking to use technologies proven to make the best use of resources and time. Firms are working smarter as well as harder.”
For more details on BigChange’s study and how trades businesses are faring in the current climate, visit https://www.bigchange.com/field-service-sector-report/.