Procurement · 17 March 2017

Poor IT support sees small business owners suffer

IT support
A quarter of owners admitted that poor IT support cost their business an hour each week in productivity

Over four in ten owners at small UK companies have lost sales from a lack of effective IT support, according to a new study.

The research, by IT services firm A&O, found that while many small business owners had neglected to invest in up to date systems, providers had also come up short in offering proper IT support for customers.

Some 38 per cent of respondents claimed their supplier had not suggested system developments to boost performance, while over a third weren’t advised on updates to IT-related regulations that could protect from security breaches.

A quarter of owners said that IT problems were a weekly occurrence, hitting business productivity, while almost a third admitted to losing a whole working day because of a total IT blackout.

A lack of maintenance could be the main cause of IT problems. Over half admitted to not taking annual check-ups of IT infrastructure that could anticipate potential problems, with a fifth unaware if yearly audits were available from their supplier.

Commenting on the research, Rod Moore, chairman at A&O, advised owners to consider IT support as a key part of business operations.

“Whilst we take it for granted that technological improvements are making our working lives simpler, it’s all too easy for tech to fall to the bottom of a company’s priority list. For many small businesses, outdated technology and lack of regular attention can negatively impact productivity as well as profit,” he said in a statement.

Moore added that making the necessary investments in IT support would be a “great way to free up internal resources and reduce overheads”.

“As the world moves increasingly online, business success will become even more reliant on smooth-running IT services and air-tight cyber security.”

Cyber crime remains a harmful consequence of underinvestment in IT systems, with reputational risk and scams posing a threat to bottom-line profits for firms.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that almost two-thirds of small firms have been affected by cyber crime, despite nine in ten taking steps to protect security.

FSB chairman Mike Cherry stated that a collective effort was required to provide small business owners with the IT support in strengthening digital security.

“Smaller businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with ever-evolving and increasing digital attacks. We’re calling on government, larger businesses, individuals and providers to take part in a joint effort to tackle cyber crime and improve business resilience,” Cherry said.

In November 2016, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that £1.6bn would be invested into building up the cyber defences of UK businesses.

Find out how your business can create an effective cyber security response

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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