IT security worries top agenda for UK firms

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Data security is top of the list of IT concerns for small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, research carried out for the Institute Directors (IoD) has found.

The poll of 562 UK IT directors, conducted by the IoD and Dell, found that despite general evidence of sound purchasing decisions, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still have numerous IT security concerns. Almost two thirds cited data security as a significant worry, and over half of respondents are concerned about their disaster recovery plans.

The study found that many of these security concerns have been compounded as firms increasingly deploy mobile working infrastructures. Investment has been high in mobile technology, with almost two thirds of SMEs questioned using wireless technology and 25 per cent have a wireless LAN, according to the poll.

The survey also showed that the investment focus is shifting towards 'mobile' with almost half of businesses planning to change their purchasing strategy from desktop computers to notebooks.

Additionally, when questioned about the ideal technology for their organisation, most purchasers opted for something wireless-based, choosing systems with a wireless local area network, including a VPN and 3G for those on the move.

Professor Jim Norton, senior policy advisor to the IoD, said: "SMEs could teach many large businesses a thing or two about really sweating their ICT investments. Once they can see bottom line business advantage, they are very fleet of foot in grasping the opportunities offered by ICT - such as mobile working."

The study found that over four out of five (84 per cent) of UK small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) consider technology to be a key factor in helping grow their business. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) cited productivity as the main reason for their investment.

For small business owners, these reasons are compelling enough for them to invest significant budgets in IT. Averaging £160,000 per annum these budgets are mainly funded by cash (84 per cent). Other forms of financing include leasing at 7 per cent, hire purchase at 5 per cent and only 1 per cent turning to loans.

"Small businesses are far more IT savvy than ever before and really understand the benefits and competitive advantage technology can bring to their business," added Bill Rodrigues, vice president and general manager of Dell UK.

The Dell and IoD SME Technology Trends Survey was conducted by the IoD in July 2004 via and resulted in 562 responses. The sample comprised of companies from a wide range of industry sectors. Just under 90 per cent of respondents had less than 250 employees, 43 per cent worked in companies with less that 10 employees and a further 24 per cent had 11-50 employees.



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