Small businesses in the Asia-Pacific region are turning in increasing numbers to specialist computing consultants for advice on computing solutions, according to research conducted for Microsoft Australia.
Microsoft Australia sources say the research reveals that small businesses are now far more likely to utilise specialists than they were two years ago, although publications and colleagues/friends continue to play a large role in determining which solutions are adopted.
The research, conducted by market research company Leading Edge for Microsoft in March 1996, found that 39 per cent of small businesses surveyed cited specialist computer consultants as the prime source of influence for IT purchases.
The research, conducted throughout the Asia-Pacific region, encompasses market structure, the IT decision process and the installed base. Businesses surveyed ranked newspapers and magazines second at 27 per cent, colleagues third at 23 per cent and friends fourth at 19 per cent.
According to Microsoft sources, the research also revealed that:
90 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that "copying software is a criminal offence''50 per cent of those surveyed felt software piracy was "quite common-place''44 per cent also felt that there was "little chance of being caught'' pirating softwaremost of those surveyed used 486s with 8Mb of RAM or more.
Microsoft says Leading Edge surveyed about 150 companies with 25 PCs or less during March, utilising telephone and focus-group techniques. The researchers also surveyed 150 companies with more than 25 PCs. However, Microsoft has no plans to release those results at this time.
The piracy angle
The research findings on the piracy issue are expected to be used by the Business Software Association of Australia (BSAA) to launch an anti-piracy campaign into the sector. BSAA chairman Jim Macnamara says the organisation plans to shift its focus on software piracy from large corporations to the small-to-medium business sector following a decline in infringements by large corporations between 1990 and 1995.
Macnamara attributes the degree of software piracy in the small-to-medium business sector to the absence of MIS or IS managers in small organisations and the lack of auditing mechanisms.