Small businesses in the UK are beginning to spend more on IT following a period of stagnation, according to SAP.

“There was a period a year or so ago when small businesses really stopped their spending, and IT was a big target for cuts,” John Antunes, SME business director at SAP, told Computerworld UK. “We definitely see a change now.”

Much of the focus remains on “efficiency”, Antunes said, but IT spending was increasingly seen as a route to achieve this. Small and medium businesses were investing consistently in customer relationship management and business intelligence, as well as financial software, he said.

SAP had for long been viewed as a “large enterprise” supplier that was “too complex” for smaller businesses, Antunes conceded, but he said the German software vendor was working to change perceptions.

“We have a software suite that can really address the demands of smaller businesses, including through our Fast Start programme, which helps companies adopt systems much more quickly,” he said.

SAP sells to small businesses through IT services firms and resellers only, and Antunes said this was crucial in its growth. “Many of our competitors don’t have the same depth of SME partners, and that means we can get close to the market,” he said. These partners offer both integration and consultancy services.

In the UK, SAP’s strongest SME sectors are “professional services and manufacturing, particularly high tech manufacturing”, Antunes noted.

Its core products for SMEs include Business One and Business All in One enterprise resource planning systems. For cloud services, which Antunes said were growing in popularity among businesses looking for the ability to upscale and down-scale quickly, SAP has the Business By Design Suite.

SAP has long touted its mobile device capabilities for larger businesses, particularly following its acquisition of Sybase. SMEs were often “as interested as larger businesses” in analytics on the move, Antunes said. “Things are changing so fast. The adoption of iPads and other tablets is huge, and it’s going to grow.”