Research by Sharp, a provider of business technology products and SMEs across Europe, shows a clear and concerning IT knowledge gap amongst smaller firms in the UK.
Despite an increase in investment in IT post-pandemic, most IT professionals in UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) admit they aren’t familiar enough with crucial IT areas such as cloud or IT security to make the right decisions for their business.
The research, conducted by Censuswide, is part of a pan-European survey of 5,770 professionals in SMEs responsible for purchasing IT. It assessed their confidence and capabilities of IT and barriers to investment over the next 12 months.
Less than half of those surveyed felt knowledgeable enough about the benefits of cloud (40%) and IT security (44%).
Beyond cloud and IT security, businesses also admit to lacking the proper knowledge in critical areas such as network limitations (66%), specifications of IT hardware (64%), software licenses (63%) and Office 356 opportunities (63%).
When it comes to making the most of investments already made, IT professionals admit a lack of integration with other systems (25%) and overly complicated software and systems (25%) are barriers to getting the best return.
Managers’ lack of knowledge (23%) was also cited as a critical factor in preventing businesses from leveraging investments effectively.
Colin Blumenthal, Vice President of IT Services at Sharp Europe, comments: “In a challenging economic climate, smaller businesses are focusing on efficiency, productivity, profitability, and getting the right value from investments they are about to or have already made.”
“But with technology continuously evolving and becoming more complex, sometimes that isn’t as easy as it might sound.”
“Given this, expert advice should always be sought to ensure the right decisions are being made, particularly as SMEs across different industries have specific needs,” says Blumenthal.
Unfortunately, expert advice on IT investments is found lacking by UK businesses. Almost half (42%) believe they were poorly advised from the beginning and didn’t have good enough ongoing advice and support.
In addition, just over a quarter of businesses believe that a lack of employee understanding (26%) holds them back. Less than a quarter (23%) currently have a person responsible for IT internally.
Across Europe, making the most of investments in IT over the last few years is ranked as highly by European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as finding new talent. However, the challenges for those in the UK focused more on the rising business costs.
Sharp UK is the UK operation of Sharp Europe, offering an integrated range of technology and IT services to businesses and organisations designed to improve performance and enable the future workplace.
With 15 offices throughout the UK, Sharp serves the private and public sectors, Education and Government, with services that include managed print, IT support and telephony, visitor management and meeting room solutions, audiovisual technology, workspace design and furniture installation.