IT services provider OGL Computer has revealed the top technology concerns and priorities for UK SMEs in its report: The State of Technology at UK SMEs
Paul Colwell, Technical Director, OGL Computer and its cyber division CyberGuard Technologies, explained that “The inaugural State of Technology at UK SMEs” report reveals that IT decision-makers at SMEs have clear strategies for the future, and understand the opportunities and challenges that face their verticals in 2020…
“These range from the perennial, such as the ever-present threat of serious cyber-attack or data breach to effectively managing the increasing amount of data flowing through the organisation. In addition, moving to the cloud securely and an ongoing lack of technology-savvy workers emerged as key themes.”
Increased cloud adoption
Cloud computing features strongly in the report, with 57% of respondents planning to drive business efficiencies and profitability through increasing adoption of cloud computing, coming second only to more use of collaboration software:
– Increasing the use of applications such as Microsoft Office 365, Teams, SharePoint etc 59%
– Increasing the adoption of cloud computing 57%
– Investing in effective backup and disaster recovery solutions to ensure business continuity 55%
Moving to the cloud securely
In spite of their familiarity with cloud technology, a sizeable 76% of UK SMEs are nervous about moving from an on-premise IT infrastructure to a cloud infrastructure, due to concerns over data security.
Survey respondent Nicola Smith who is a Director from Star Fasteners says: “Many SMEs are scared to move to the cloud because they feel uneasy with data being held off-site and not having control of their hardware”.
Required industry standards
While there are challenges involved in moving to a public cloud environment, preparation and planning will mitigate most effectively. However, it is essential that internal data policies are implemented in the cloud, and/or cloud providers are compliant with required industry standards on data security.
Scott Willmott, Head of R&D, OGL Computer, adds: “Cloud solutions have matured significantly over the last few years, so there will be several offerings that suit your business to a tee – just ensure that your wish list is full and complete and ensure due diligence is conducted.”
The vast majority of UK SMEs (81%) confirmed that they had suffered a data breach or cyber-attack, with a considerable two in five (37%) admitting they had suffered multiple breaches.
Industry verticals had a significant bearing here, with the healthcare, IT & Telecoms and legal industries topping the list of those suffering multiple attacks.
75% of IT & Telecoms SMEs have suffered from more than two breaches. This is understandable as some IT companies may store large amounts of sensitive customer data, while cloud storage and computing service providers, developers of security software, or file-sharing solution providers, are often the targets of supply chain compromise attempts.
Direct attacks seek to access the organisation’s network operations and data while indirect attacks target subscribers within the telecoms sector. SME suppliers may be a gateway into the network – once inside, cyber criminals can easily access data and intercept calls, as well as control and impersonate subscribers.
Emerging technologies – robotics and AI
SMEs have long recognised the opportunities technology provides to foster growth and improve profit margins, so appetites for new and emerging technologies are strong. The survey shows that while SMEs are familiar with, and implement mainstream technology, they also plan to invest in emerging technology.
Top five technologies currently used by SMEs:
Cyber security 79%
Data and analytics 78%
Digital transformation 74%
Cloud / hosted platforms 66%
Internet of Things 59%
The top five technologies SMEs plan to adopt are:
Cyber security threats were the main reason for the adoption of new technology 51% – ahead of enabling easier communications with customers 40%.
Paul Colwell, Technical Director, OGL Computer and its cyber division, CyberGuard Technologies, comments: “Whether deploying innovative technologies to protect a business, communicate better with customers or improve productivity, our research reveals that SMEs are thinking ahead. They are ready to test new products and services and are increasing their IT and security budgets to benefit from emerging technologies that will change the way we work.”
With 50% of the respondents currently using technology and 34% planning to adopt technology enabling increased remote working, more progressive virtual tools, such as virtual reality conferencing, may become the preferred form of communication – even over face-to-face meetings. AI will also likely play a major role in managing remote staff.
Cloud-based products like Microsoft’s Office 365 can keep employees connected from anywhere with a reliable internet connection and can offer them full access to workplace tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. Additional collaboration tools such as SharePoint and Teams also enable easy file sharing and team working amongst employees in different locations.
Ian Wright, Managing Director and survey respondent from SDI Displays, comments: “Through remote workforce technology, our commercial team can work and access our business systems from anywhere in the UK and Europe if required. It means we can be consistent and efficient in our reporting and communications across the business.”