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Uncovering the technology concerns of SMEs

15 Jul 2015

SMBs are changing their relationship with IT and are beginning to view technology as a strategic imperative and a key driver of new business, according to CompTIA.

Jim Hamilton, CompTIA vice president member communities, says, “SMBs’ relationship with technology is becoming more critical.

"Without an abundance of capital to invest in technology initiatives, many firms seek the best value or the lowest cost option.

“On the other hand, there is an increasing sense of urgency since many technologies available today can significantly increase the abilities of a smaller business and create capabilities on par with a larger enterprise.”

“As small and medium businesses consider their technology strategies for the future, the ultimate goal is to build systems that help move the business forward.

“The challenge is that building these systems, and integrating them with each other and with a company workflow, is more complicated than ever, thanks to a wider range of options and a dynamic environment,” says Hamilton.

As the technology landscape grows broader and more complex, SMBs need help with a range of technology issues including security, data management and modernising architecture.

Work in these areas will require not only new technology, but also new workforce education and new processes, CompTIA says.

Security

Security is quickly becoming a top priority for all businesses as breaches occur more frequently and carry more serious repercussions. Small businesses are not immune to attacks simply because their data sets are smaller, says CompTIA.

Cyber attacks have a growing variety of motivations and occur in small businesses just as often as attacks on the largest enterprises. Further, the impact to an SMB is proportionally larger.

In fact, the Ponemon Institute’s October 2014 Global Report on the Cost of Cyber Crime found that the per capita cost of a breach for the smallest businesses was significantly higher than at the largest firms - $1,601 versus $437.

Data management

As businesses undergo digital transformation, data turns into a more critical asset.

The big data movement has raised interest in using data for analysis and decision-making and, even when the data sets are not massive, there are tools and techniques required for performing good analytics, CompTIA says.

Many small businesses have never managed data as a primary resource, and they must take steps towards consolidating data silos, handling rapidly growing data collections, and establishing strong business continuity/disaster recovery plans.

Modernising architecture

The smaller the firm, the less infrastructure there is in place. In the early days of cloud computing, this slowed adoption since small or micro businesses did not see a return in migrating small installations to the cloud, according to CompTIA.

The thinking has shifted as these firms begin to understand that cloud systems can give them expanded options at a reasonable price.

As current pieces of infrastructure move towards the end of their lifecycle, SMBs need to understand how to choose the best mix of cloud and on-premise systems. That will lead to the challenge of managing a complex architecture, CompTIA says.

Hamilton says, “Many SMBs have no IT department to address these concerns, choosing to handle technology issues internally using employees who may be tech savvy but actually hold other jobs such as sales or accounting.

“Other companies, especially those on the medium-sized end of the spectrum, will build a formal IT function as infrastructure demands grow.

“However, without the resources for large internal IT departments, SMBs should look to third-party IT service providers to help them meet their business and innovation needs for less.”

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