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Misco roundup – Small businesses


Misco roundup – Small businesses
18th April 2016

by Shannon Greenhalgh

Technology progresses and evolves at a substantial rate. This can give businesses an advantage if they can keep pace with technology, but are they able to?

Businesses struggling to keep up with pace of technology

According to Small Business, seven in 10 IT managers feel the speed at which technology progresses makes it nearly impossible to ensure staff are trained in the latest skills and techniques.

Despite the majority (97%) of IT professionals saying training in the most up-to-date technical skills is essential to doing their job effectively, more than a third (36%) revealed they have not received any training by their employer in the last three years, new Upwork research has found.

While the more than nine in 10 (95%) of IT managers recognise the benefits of having a workforce with the latest skills, they revealed they face numerous challenges when it comes to employee training.

These challenges included budget restrictions (49%), time limitations (44%) and prioritising other business responsibilities (33%).

The research revealed that the inability to keep pace with new skills has a significant impact on both employees and businesses.

Considering leaving their current company for the chance of better training opportunities elsewhere was cited by almost nine in 10 (89%) of IT workers.

However, some IT businesses are already being impacted by this, as more than a quarter (28%) revealed they had lost an employee due to the lack of available training opportunities.

Half of cyberattacks targeted at small businesses

There is an increasing trend of cybercriminals turning their attention to smaller businesses, the Telegraph reports.

Research by internet security firm, Symantec, has revealed that almost half of the global attacks reported during 2015 happened at small organisations, with fewer than 250 members of staff.

As larger firms have improved their cybersecurity systems over the last four years, the research found small businesses have become an increasingly attractive target for cybercriminals.

Chief strategist at Symantec, Sian John, explained: "Small businesses are a softer target. In phishing campaigns, for example, attackers try to make people change the account on record for paying people but in a large business, they have strong payments processes and that won't get through.

"In a small business, hackers expose our need to be nice and can be successful."

Ms John warns that, although less customer information and fewer financial records may be held by smaller companies, cybercriminals can use them as a back door into the larger organisations they supply.

Ms John is urging small firms to take more precautions as a "worryingly" small proportion of small companies have cybercrime protection in place.

Lack of IT knowledge restricts SME growth

A lack of understanding about how IT can help businesses grow is restricting the productivity of small businesses.

According to recent research, inadequate use of technology has hindered the growth of nearly two thirds (65%) of small businesses.

Managing director of business technology and communications support firm, Bespoke Computing, said the research revealed that if small firms gained two hours a week, as a result of joining up their IT services, the UK economy could see a boost of nearly £9bn.

Pallet said a survey his company conducted in 2015 mirrored a 123-reg commissioned survey, conducted by YouGov, which found that the majority of businesses were not capitalising on the latest available technology.

Pallet commented: "People are not only concerned about the cost but frightened about their lack of IT knowledge.

"Small business owners are often under immense pressure to wear many hats from sales to admin to HR, and investing in developing their IT services often drops to the bottom of the list."

Businesses need to be educated in cloud security, report finds

New Intel research has found C-level executives and senior management lack an understanding regarding the security risks associated with cloud.

In their State of Cloud Adoption global report, Intel revealed feeling senior management teams had a full understanding of the security implications of cloud was cited by just a third of the 1,200 respondents.

When it comes to understanding the risks, the UK had the lowest awareness levels of any of the countries involved in the survey, with only 15% of IT professionals feel their management understood the risks.

Intel Security's UK channel boss, Stuart Taylor, commented: "With the appropriate security in place, cloud computing can be harnessed to move businesses forward but an element of education is required, particularly as cloud security decision-making moves to the boardroom."

Taylor added: "Our research reveals that while cloud adoption is on the increase, we must address the issue of trust in the cloud in order to ensure customers can truly make the most of this technology."

How small businesses can revive its IT for spring

The end of the financial year is the perfect time to start thinking about next year's budget and, in particular, your IT budget.

While IT might not be at the forefront of your mind, poor IT and a lack of proper cybersecurity could end result in your company losing business and productivity.

Here are three ways to revive your firm's IT this spring.

Don't take shortcuts

While it may be tempting to buy cheap when it comes to specification, this could end up costing you more in the long run.

Think about what is right for you and your company. For example, if you use cloud services to store your documents, you may not need the biggest hard drive for storage.

Invest in connectivity

While there are more and more measures to ensure Britain is better connected, it may be worth considering investing in installing your own fibre 'bearer'.

It may cost more, however, you can choose 100MB or even up to 1GB of dedicated Internet.

Stay updated

Cybersecurity is becoming an increasing issue. For the highest cybersecurity, you need to have several measures in place that prevent numerous possible cyberattacks. And ensure you keep it up-to-date so the latest threats are blocked.

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