Empowering SMBs to outmaneuver uncertainty

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) account for $185 billion in communication service providers’ (CSPs) revenues, more than half the communications industry’s annual income from business. In the US alone, SMBs employ nearly half the working population and generate 45% of GDP. All over the world, SMBs’ success is critical for economic growth. Worldwide IT spending by small and mid-size companies is expected to reach $684 billion in 2021, and is increasing faster than the rate of GDP growth. As a result, SMBs have become an area of increasing focus and importance for CSPs in recent years.

But just as they are a driver of economic growth, SMBs are often also more vulnerable to disruption than their more robust enterprise counterparts. This vulnerability has become particularly pronounced with the COVID-19 crisis.

Unlocking insights into SMBs

Accenture’s Communications & Media COVID-19 SMB Survey explores the impact the crisis is having on Small and Medium Businesses. It uncovers the dramatic effect lockdown measures had on SMBs, and how their operations and use of ICT will be permanently affected. The study explores how SMBs' relationships are affected as they strive to manage through the crisis. The survey was conducted during May 2020 and includes 420 SMBs in four markets (US, Italy, UK and Germany).

We explore the results to highlight:

  1. What SMBs told us about their experience of COVID-19 and how they’ve adapted.
  2. The specific areas of digital development that they will pursue to achieve greater future resilience and business agility.
  3. How CSPs can partner more effectively with SMBs to help support and sustain their shift to digital.

Rebuilding business to increase SMB resilience

As might have been expected our research has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit SMBs hard. SMBs took decisive actions to address the challenges created by COVID-19, rapidly shifting their traditional business operations to digital. This accelerated shift by SMBs creates some significant opportunities for CSPs. The results of our survey show very clearly that COVID-19 has created a sharper appetite to take the measures that can increase SMB resilience. What’s also clear is that SMBs have valued the support from their communications providers that they have received over the course of the pandemic.

Supporting SMBs by creating a platform of trust

Just as they have with consumers, CSPs have created a platform of trust that they can capitalize on as SMBs seek to accelerate their digital capabilities to increase resilience to future disruptions.

Across the board, these businesses are looking for support to digitalize – from online training to digital advertising, with cloud and security high on the list.



SMBs want to engage with their providers in new ways. They’re looking for proactive support from a business partner, but they also want to be able to access customer care via a range of channels, from face-to-face to video and self-service. In other words, there’s no one size fits all. CSPs will need to tailor the right channels for the right SMB need, combining a local approach with efficient access to digital services.

What can CSPs do to help SMBs?

Compete on premium connectivity

Capitalize on SMBs’ increasing demand for high-quality, reliable connectivity across wireline and wireless.

Position as trusted business partner

Partner to enable more agile, resilient businesses. Help businesses re-think their business models and ways of working.

Differentiate on customer experience

Customize SMB customer care and support. Expand omnichannel, automated and video-based customer interaction.

Build digital service portfolio

Expand SMB portfolio to offer Cloud, Security, ERP, Business Analytics, and digital services to help SMBs manage and grow their businesses.

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