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An IT trend too far as SMBs struggle

21 Jun 2013

One of the biggest IT challenges for SMBs across ANZ is trying to keep up with new trends within the industry, such as cloud and mobility.

Releasing its 2013 Global SMB IT Confidence Index, Symantec says companies also cited budget issues and disaster preparedness as big problems.

Brenton Smith, vice president and managing director, Pacific Region, Symantec, said despite computing often being a “double-edged sword” for SMBs today – requiring sophisticated management – there’s no doubt that even the smallest companies are relying more on technologies such as mobility and cloud to do business and remain competitive.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented relationship developing between IT and the business goals of organisations," he said.

"This increasing emphasis on IT is naturally leading to a dramatic jump in the complexity of business computing.”

To see how SMBs are coping with this increasingly technology-centric business world, Symantec surveyed nearly 2,500 SMBs across the globe – 150 of which were from ANZ.

Their responses were utilised to develop an SMB IT Confidence Index – a measure of how confident they are in using IT to address strategic business goals.

As a result, three tiers of companies emerged, with the contrast between the top tier and bottom tier forming the basis of the key takeaways.

The survey found that globally, SMBs with higher IT Confidence scores are more successful in leveraging IT to drive their business, and ultimately experience stronger, better business outcomes.

IT confidence starts at the top

One of the biggest drivers of high IT Confidence scores was the founder’s perspective and how that impacts IT.

Symantec reported 74% of top tiers globally said their founder’s previous business experience has a somewhat to extreme influence on their IT philosophies, compared to 61% of companies with low-ranking index scores, and ANZ was behind both, sitting at just 47%.

In addition, 83% of top-tier SMBs use IT as a strategic business enabler, compared to just 44% of bottom-tier SMBs, and 64% in ANZ.

“Symantec’s survey of SMBs around the world reveals how founders’ attitudes about IT can have a significant impact on their business," said Brian Burch, vice president of Global Consumer and Small Business Marketing.

"There appears to be a positive correlation between protecting their information assets and achieving their business goals.

"If small businesses want to maximise their success, they need to embrace IT as a strategic tool with the potential to deliver a competitive advantage and really drive their business”

Higher IT confidence tied to better business outcomes

SMBs with the highest IT Confidence Indices are doing better than their bottom-tier counterparts in a variety of ways according to the report.

81% of top-tier SMBs said “using computing strategically to drive our business forward” was a somewhat to extremely effective way to increase market share, compared to just 35% of the bottom-tier SMBs - 53% of ANZ businesses shared this sentiment.

Additionally, these SMBs have made information security a business priority, with 78% stating they are somewhat/extremely secure versus 39% for the bottom tier.

While the ANZ figure was higher – at 61% – security, as well as disaster preparedness and data protection, were rated as the most significant computing issues in ANZ.

ANZ companies also listed their top business challenge as business uncertainty, with budgets and the increasing pace of business tied for second.

What is the biggest challenge facing your SMB? Tell us your thoughts below