Australian small businesses spent an average of $52,000 on IT products and services over the last 12 months.
That's according to recent research into the state of IT in Australian small business commissioned by Trend Micro.
The study also found that nearly a quarter of Australia’s small businesses brought in help from external technology consultants and channel partners.
Small businesses with between 5 and 25 employees spent an average of $25,200 per year, while organisations between 26 and 50 staff had an average annual IT spend of $20,600 on all IT products and services.
Those organisations with 51 to 100 employees spent, on average, $77,300 on IT in the last year.
The study found that the way in which IT was managed across an organisation depended heavily on the size of the business, with smaller organisations more likely to manage IT simply on an ad hoc basis, and those with more employees more likely to have dedicated IT support.
It found 35 per cent of Australian small businesses had one or more employees that were dedicated full-time to IT support, a figure most prevalent in small businesses with between 51 to 100 staff.
Of those companies surveyed, 24 per cent had one or more full-time employees to handle IT on a part-time basis, in conjunction with other work duties.
The study also found 11 per cent of small businesses did not have a specific IT resource, either internally or externally, and said that work was done on an ad hoc basis. This approach was most prevalent in organisations with 5 to 25 employees.
While almost one quarter (23 per cent) of small businesses surveyed said they had external technology consultants and channel partners provide their IT support, a figure much larger than other countries around the world.
Trend Micro, head of small and medium business, Mark Sinclair, said many Australian small businesses struggle with IT spend and management on a daily basis.
“For small companies with only a few employees, we often find the small business owner is relied upon to manage IT themselves, which can lead to inefficiencies and increased security incidents,” he said.
“In those small businesses with more staff, it is more likely to find a one person IT department, but that IT resource is bogged down on day to day activity with little time or headspace for strategic IT planning.”
Sinclair said choosing the right IT partner could make an enormous difference for small businesses in terms of IT spend, management, efficiencies and security.
“Australian small businesses place such a heavy reliance on IT partners that such partners and consultants need to be aware of the latest products, technologies and threats," he said.
"Small businesses trust their partners and expect them to be up to date with, and fully understand, all IT systems.”
Business Technology Partners, managing director, Michael Jenkin, who works with hundreds of Australian small businesses, said that what his small business clients seek is a technology partner that took the time to get to know the company and its needs, as well as the technology products they recommend.
“Small businesses need to focus on their business and customers, and many don’t have the time or the specialisation to manage their own IT,” he said.
“I’ve been using Trend Micro for over 20 years and am constantly thankful for the positive impact it has had on my clients.”
Nearly half (44 per cent) of Australian small businesses surveyed preferred on-premise management, compared to nearly a quarter (23 per cent) that said they would prefer hybrid-cloud management, and 18 percent who preferred a hosted IT management solution.
The study was conducted by Survey.com on behalf of Trend Micro. Findings of this study are based on primary research conducted between March and April 2014 on small businesses (between 5 and 100 employees) in the US, Germany, and Australia, with more than 300 small business respondents in Australia.