SMBs value IT, but wait to upgrade

Small Business IT

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) understand the value of IT to their operations, but those in the UK wait for existing systems to fail before investing or innovating, a survey has suggested.

The International Council of Small Business (ICSB) surveyed its own membership, asking those SMB experts their views on IT.

Nearly every expert surveyed some 98 per cent said IT is important for small business growth, while 92 per cent said keeping up with competitors on IT was very important. Almost all said investing in tech lead to long-term benefits, while 81 per cent said those benefits would be great' or very great.'

Despite this, just a fifth of SMB experts surveyed said that they saw such firms using IT to get ahead of their competition, while two-thirds of SMBs don't bother innovating they just use existing IT. A fifth of smaller businesses wouldn't bother changing their IT setup unless it started to fail.

Dr Ayman El Tarabishy, ICSB's executive director, said that just half of SMBs had websites, while 39 per cent used e-commerce. But that didn't mean they weren't being tech savvy, just that SMBs choose to invest their IT budgets on internal IT. "If you're running a business, it's efficient and critical to have internal communications," he said.

The researchers also polled business owners themselves. In the UK, some four in ten said they would not bother upgrading IT unless it was necessary, despite 86 per cent saying they considered IT important. Dr El Tarabishy suggested this had a lot to do with UK SMBs stuck with legacy systems.

"Small businesses find IT important, but only if other small businesses use it... they wait and see what other small businesses are doing," he said.