Day-to-day IT Challenges are Headache for UK SMEs

Connect, the IT support company for small to medium-sized businesses, says according to new research everyday IT problems are the biggest headache for SMEs in the UK.

The research project, which polled 200 IT managers and directors, found that 37% of UK SMEs said that regular IT hassles were their biggest headache. Their second biggest worry was IT security – 32% identified this as a major problem. However, security was more of a problem for smaller businesses (those with less than 50 employees) – 35% of these firms said security was one of their top two headaches, as opposed to just 27% of the larger firms (those with 50-250 employees).

Mark MacGregor, Connect’s Chief Executive said: “Much of the IT debate currently revolves around what we’d call ‘big ticket’ items – concepts like mobile working, Web 2.0 or open source software dominate the news agenda for IT. While we’re certainly not dismissing those concepts, the reality is that for the entrepreneurs and owner-managers that drive much of the innovation and growth in our economy, the issues are really much simpler. They just want robust, cost-effective IT systems that actually work. One of the challenges we need to address as an industry is how we can deliver more of that type of IT to this vital part of UK plc.”

The other key issues cited by the companies surveyed also related to ‘day-to-day’ IT issues, for instance:

30% cited lack of understanding by staff in use of IT as one of their two biggest IT headaches. However, while only 20% of smaller (less than 50 employees) companies perceived this to be a problem, the comparable figure for companies with 51-250 employees was 42%

27% cited cost as one of their two biggest headaches (30% of this was from the smaller companies, just 22% from the larger players);

MacGregor continues: “Although there is widespread agreement as to the critical issues, there are some revealing discrepancies between the smaller (< 50 employees) and the bigger firms (51-250). It’s not unexpected to see that the smaller firms are more worried about cost – but it is surprising to find that bigger firms are more worried than smaller firms that their staff do not understand IT. You’d expect bigger firms to have larger training budgets – so there’s a clear disconnect there in terms of how the larger firms we spoke to communicate with employees and develop their IT skills. “Also, 19% of all of those surveyed see email/internet downtime as a one of their top two headaches – but it’s much more of an issue for the smaller companies (24%) than the bigger ones (12%). Again, the IT supply industry needs to assess this kind of discrepancy carefully and to find better ways to ensure that small companies have the internet and email tools they need to run and expand their businesses.”