UK SMBs slow to deploy new technologies, could get stuck in 'technology dark ages'

by Doug Drinkwater

November 4 2011

Intel's Graham Palmer says that SMEs need to weigh up the advantages of newer technologies
Intel's Graham Palmer says that SMEs need to weigh up the advantages of newer technologies

A new report from Intel suggests that SMEs still rely heavily on legacy technologies, and are oblivious when it comes to cloud computing and security on bring-your-own devices.

Intel’s Small Business Index surveyed 3,000 IT decision-makers and IT users and found that the slow adoption of new technologies was down to a “lack of financial and human resources”.

The report indicated that a third (36.4%) of SMEs do not plan to buy news laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones in the next year, with 78% admitting that a lack of government funding is preventing them from training staff on these newer technologies.

Intel did admit that the adoption of new technologies, like tablets, is on the rise in the workplace (17% of IT-decision makers plan to buy or lease an iPad or another tablet for work purposes in the next year), but said that legacy technologies are still being used by most companies.

As an example, Intel said that the fax machine is still used on a daily basis by 37% of IT decision makers and 40% of IT users.

“It’s clear that as SMEs tighten their purse strings, buying new technologies falls to the bottom of the list of priorities”, said Graham Palmer, managing director of Intel UK.

“Yet, it’s important that IT decision makers weigh the advantages, such as the increased efficiency and flexibility delivered by mobile devices, against the cost. 

“In many sectors, such as the creative industries and retail, using outdated legacy technologies could even result in the loss of your competitive advantage”.

Despite the perceived popularity of tablets, Intel’s index shows that tablets are only used for work by just 1.4% of IT users, which compares poorly against the laptop, used by 36.4% of workers, and the smartphone, used by 16.2% of IT users.

Intel's report also tackled bring-your-own devices (BYOD), security breaches and discovered some confusion relating to cloud computing,

Out of all respondents, almost half (42.3%) of IT users reported to using a personal mobile or smartphone for work, and this figure stood at 38.7%  with a personal laptop.

However, despite the popularity of the BYOD trend, Intel's report suggested that 36.5% of IT decision makers are unaware of legislation relating to security and privacy on their mobile phones. Furthermore, 11.2% of IT-decision makers admitted to being aware of the legislation, but said that they don't have the resources to ensure their business complies.

Intel also found that one in ten IT decision makers have been victim of an IT incident in the last year – resulting in business downtime. Despite this, 64-percent of SMEs spend under 10% of their IT budget on protecting themselves from security breaches and only 6.8% spend between 21 and 40% of their IT budget on security.

There is also confusion over cloud computing. Intel said that just 13.8% of IT decision makers have purchased cloud services, and revealed that almost half (49% ) of IT users, and 23% of decision makers, weren’t sure what cloud computing was.

In regard to tablets, Intel's report somewhat conflicts the view of ABI Research's Jeff Orr, who believes that SMEs are increasingly turning to tablet PCs in the workplace.

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