When it comes to IT, SMBs have widely varying opinions. Some view it as a necessary evil, much like paying utility bills. Others, however, feel that business computing can set them apart, giving them a strategic advantage over the competition. Symantec recently conducted a global survey of SMBs with a view of assessing their attitudes toward information technology and its place in their business.
Through a portion of the survey responses we established an IT Confidence Index, rating each business on its overall comfort level in using IT to achieve business goals. This numerical value allowed us to clearly identify three tiers of businesses, contrasting the top-tier with the bottom-tier companies to see what significant differences stood out between the two groups.
As it turns out, IT confidence trickles down from company leadership, beginning with the founder’s previous experience. About three-quarters (74 percent) of top-tier SMBs reported that their view on IT has been influenced by the founder’s previous business experience. Among bottom-tier SMBs, it was significantly less (61 percent). As a result, the top-tier businesses are far more likely to use IT as a strategic business enabler, by almost a 2 to 1 ratio of 83 percent to 44 percent. Due to their enlightened perspective, “tech confident SMBs” more frequently invest in high-quality elements in their computing infrastructure while also investing in advanced initiatives like mobility and the cloud. In the end, top tiers see these trends as being worth the risk far more often than the bottom-tier companies.
Top-Tier SMBs See Better Results
Most top-tier SMBs – 81 percent, in fact – believe they can increase their market share through strategic use of IT, compared to only 35 percent of lower-tier companies. And while computing complexity is a common issue, top-ranking SMBs feel its effects less – especially in areas including storage, backup and disaster preparedness.
They are also more confident in their level of security, with more than 75 percent considering themselves somewhat or extremely secure. By contrast, only 39 percent of bottom-tier companies felt the same way. And this is not just empty confidence: the top-tier SMBs are seeing fewer cyberattacks and 52 percent lower annual losses than their bottom-tier counterparts.
Becoming a Top-Tier Company
Duplicating this success involves adopting the attitude of the top-tier founders. We suggest the following recommendations:
- First, consider the IT solutions you are using in your company. SMBs should consider long-term cost and value, and what technologies will differentiate them from the competition and support future growth.
- More aggressive deployment of advanced initiatives pays off in achieving business goals. Trends such as cloud and mobility enable SMBs to focus on improving their efficiency. Goals such as reducing costs and increasing agility, for example, can be facilitated through the adoption of tools like online collaboration and video conferencing.
- Underlying this emphasis on IT is the constant need to keep information safe. With attacks on SMBs tripling over the last year, we’re seeing cybercriminals focus more on companies that typically have less security. Thinking like a top-tier company means making security a priority, with 81 percent of them taking an aggressive approach to protection. This means deploying the right solutions and keeping them up to date – not only protecting against attacks, but also maintaining effective backup and disaster preparedness.
For more information on the SMB Survey, see the full report.