As more and more SMBs go digital, security is becoming the main concern, according to a new report by IT industry association, CompTIA.
While reducing overheads is still the prime strategic driver, there is also a desire to reach new customers for growth and diversification. CompTIA's research shows that increasingly SMBs look for technology to drive new business, but are not in a position to implement it.
CompTIA vice president member communities, Jim Hamilton, said 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,” he said.
“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.”
SMBs now need help with the day-to-day technology issues that existing digital businesses take for granted: namely, security, data management and modernising architecture. CompTIA believes that new technology, new workforce education and new processes will help with enablement.
“Many SMBs have no IT department to address these concerns,” Hamilton said.
“[They are] 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.”
The three main technology areas causing SMBs concern are:
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 the data sets are smaller. 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. 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 at $1601 versus $437.
Keeping data safe is just one aspect of data handling that is cause for concern among SMBs. As businesses undergo digital transformation, data turns into a more critical asset. The big data movement has also 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. Many small businesses have never managed data as a primary resource, and must take steps towards consolidating data silos, handling rapidly growing data collections and establishing strong business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
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. The thinking has shifted as these firms begin to understand that Cloud systems can give 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.