A lack of awareness, experience and skills are some of the obstructions facing SMEs who want a more IT-capable future. If you are experiencing any of the following challenges, your business could benefit from seeking the advice of experienced IT professionals.
So, what are some of the issues that SMEs face?
1. Implementing Effective Cybersecurity and Dealing With Red Tape
With news stories of high-profile hacks, it’s easy to believe that cybersecurity is only a serious concern for big businesses. However, it’s a problem affecting businesses at every level, including SMEs. In fact, as many as 46% of UK businesses report having fallen victim to cybercrime. And, the average cyberattack ends up costing small businesses £11,000.
Having an in-house IT security team is not realistic from a financial or logistical perspective for many SMEs. It’s a full-time occupation simply staying up to date with the latest threats and countermeasures.
SMEs need to be particularly alert against possible phishing and ransomware attacks. These are two of the most frequently used methods of attack against businesses of all sizes.
Today, even small businesses also find themselves having to navigate an ever-increasingly complex web of compliance regulations. For example, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the Data Protection Act 2018 are just two government-mandated data security guidelines.
IASME (Information Assurance for Small to Medium‐sized Enterprises) is also required for any contracting with the UK government. Businesses that want to operate internationally may need to adhere to additional security standards, such as the ISO/IEC 27001.
This trend is also being accelerated by the heightened public and regulatory concern regarding personal privacy in an online world. For example, a data breach may lead to fines or lawsuits for your business if proper data security guidelines weren’t followed.
Furthermore, you can also suffer additional IT costs and disruptions in the face of mounting compliance audits.
If you lack the experience in-house in your business in implementing and maintaining compliance with IT standards, it can be a real headache for small business owners. And one that is well worth getting expert external help on.
2. A Lack of Financing and Resources
You have to spend money to make money, right?
Well, for SMEs, that’s easier said than done. SMEs are under pressure to continually upgrade and scale their existing technology while also finding ways to innovate. Not doing so can leave you quickly falling behind competitors as well as industry disruptors.
It’s no wonder that 39% of SMEs view rising costs as a significant risk to their business.
However, unlike larger businesses, SMEs have a tougher time securing funds to reinvest in IT. A lack of guidance and vision on how investing in IT can increase ROI means it is often overlooked.
Working with a Managed IT services approach, SMEs can save a considerable amount on these expenses by:
- Consolidating their support contracts
- Inventorying their whole stack of physical and digital IT assets
- Only investing in the most value-driven technologies.
3. Securing and Retaining Top IT Talent
When securing the best talent, particularly in leadership positions, SMEs face an uphill battle against larger businesses. Not only is it a challenge to offer competitive salaries, but the same opportunities for career advancement.
Simultaneously, the growing workload and the possibility of fulfilling multiple roles are big turn-offs for potential IT candidates.
According to Tech Nation, IT job opportunities in the UK are up by 2.6%. The increased demand has also caused average salaries to rise by 4.9% to an average of £53,318. Demand for specialist roles is also rising, with average wages for network specialists growing by 69% to £85,894.
Globally, there is a severe shortage of cybersecurity talent. According to Gartner, it’s less severe in the UK than in the US, but the reality remains for SMEs.
This expertise is needed to combat growing cybersecurity threats, manage compliance, innovation, and prepare for hybrid working environments. So if you can’t secure that type of expertise in-house increasingly SMEs are looking to contract this out to expert 3rd party IT support providers.
4. Transitioning to Hybrid, Flexible Working Environments
Flexible and remote working arrangements have seemed inevitable for a long time.
However, the idea was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses were forced to adapt rapidly as lockdowns, and social distancing, threatened to bring work to a standstill.
This was damaging for SMEs that didn’t have the reserves to outlast these measures.
However, remote and hybrid work environments pose several challenges for businesses including:
- Managing and empowering employee productivity
- Facilitating clear and effective communication and collaboration
- Managing the increased cybersecurity risks
Cloud adoption has enabled SMEs to begin to make an effective transition and it also brings opportunities in terms of scalability and flexibility. And getting more value out of an “always-on” workforce.
Still, transitioning from conventional on-premise IT infrastructure to hybrid or 100% cloud-based infrastructure isn’t without its challenges.
SMEs need to decide which Cloud based approach best suits their businesses immediate needs. That includes future goals and business constraints. For some, an externally Managed IT support service is an option that enables a smooth transition to a hybrid working environment. With all of the support, expertise and backup that an IT support company can provide along the way.
5. Coping with the Accelerating Change and Scalability Requirements
According to Moore’s law, the power of CPUs roughly doubles every two years. Updates that upgrade functionality have become an everyday occurrence for the software and SaaS solutions we use. And, it’s recommended that a business updates its technology every three years with a complete refresh every 5-6 years.
SMEs also face challenges managing their ongoing OPEX and CAPEX costs regarding OEM, TPM, EOL/EOS, and other support expenses. Not to mention subscriptions to a growing list of business solutions, including business email, CRMs, video conferencing software, etc.
Before you conclude, the answer is to maintain the status quo. There’s good reason to believe that outdated technology may be costing you even more.
SMEs are having to invest in new technology, such as IT asset management platforms. These platforms help them manage existing technology. It’s no wonder that SMEs are struggling to cope with the seemingly relentless pace of change.
Moving to the Cloud can help small businesses achieve increased scalability and flexibility. However, its adoption can present significant challenges. This is a situation where experienced and committed leadership is needed to help manage change effectively. SMEs often require guidance to implement strategies and utilize new technologies more efficiently.
It’s no fault of SMEs that many are unprepared to tackle significant IT infrastructure challenges.
If IT isn’t your core competency, the demands on your time, money may be distracting you from your core mission. The question SME’s should be asking is? Is it time to seek advice and assistance?