SME IT Spending Takes a Hit in 2011

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It would appear that renewed economic uncertainty in 2011 has led to a reduction in IT spend among SMEs, according to the AVG SMB Market Landscape Report 2011.  The report shows SMEs in the USA are typically spending 15% less than in 2010, while their UK counterparts’ outgoings have diminished by 17%.

As a possible symptom of this, more SMEs are moving to manage IT in house rather than incurring the extra expense associated with outsourcing.

The report shows SMEs are embracing technologies to increase levels of mobility, best represented by the increase in tablet devices with a corresponding decline in laptop use.

However, few are aware of the potential security risks that accompany this technology.  Almost three quarters of SMEs do not agree that the use of mobile phones in business may represent a threat to IT security.

With the rapidly-evolving mobile communications market offering many opportunities to the SMB segment, it is of no real surprise that these organisations are evaluating the options available to them. Half of SMEs in the UK and USA give employees remote access to their networks, with the typical remote worker spending one day a week working away from their office.

Most popular locations for remote working are at home and on the move. When asked about the IT options which they were considering employing, many stated an interest in antivirus/internetsecurity for smartphones and solutions for mobile workers.

Alongside the use of a wider variety of hardware devices, SMEs are showing greater interest in solutions suitable for use by mobile workers. However, not all are aware of the IT security risks that accompany this technology.

SMEs also recognise the opportunities which social networking offers their companies to promote their business and engage with customers. One-in-three SME has a social network page or profile on the three major social networks and are readily employing a social networking strategy. Facebook is the most popular, with 30% of SMEs claiming to have a page; while just under a fifth each claim to have a profile on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Businesses are most commonly using social networking sites to engage customers and to share company and product information. More than a quarter of these organisations claim to be using their social networking connections to research trends and gain consumer insights.

The survey shows that businesses using social networking are most likely to be found in service and retail industries; and particularly among the smaller companies (2-10 seats). Also, those organisations with internal IT resources are more likely to be employing a social networking strategy.

While the majority of SMEs remain focused on the more traditional threats to IT security, such as email and web viruses, they are becoming aware of new ways in which their organisational security can be compromised, including theft of information and social engineering. It is typically the larger end of the SME market (51-100 employees) who are most aware of these new threats to IT security.

SMEs often only realise the true cost of IT security breaches after experiencing one. Those who have experienced a breach are more likely to have seen the longer-term impacts such as a loss of sales and revenue opportunities and the man hours lost from reacting to a breach.

Peace of mind, performance and reassurance continue to be top priorities for SMEs when considering security software. This needs to protect their business and run in the background and not slow business systems while preventing security breaches.

Universally SMEs want security software to deliver the right level of protection and not impact on business performance. The vast majority of SMEs (97%) also want the reassurance of a trusted brand to deliver this.


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