The 6 Most Common IT Issues That Hinder SMB Owners

Having the right technology is critical for any business trying to stay ahead of the competition. It therefore comes as no surprise that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are spending upwards of $686 billion on their mission-critical technology.

Unfortunately, 55% of SMBs feel that their current technology solutions are actually “a hindrance to incorporating or adopting new technologies”, while 75% of tech influencers in this business category are concerned about coming “IT disruption”.

So what should we make of this? What challenges are SMBs facing that are interfering with their ability to compete in the marketplace? And why is it so difficult in today’s technology-centric business world to get ahead?

Read on to learn about six of the top IT issues that hinder SMBs owners.

1. IT Budget Pressures

The cost of hardware, software, and technology management continues to rise, yet the majority of SMBs aren’t increasing their IT spending to keep pace. It’s an enormous demographic: SMBs represent 40% of the total worldwide IT spend, yet economic pressures frequently keep them from making the moves they need to help them grow.

Because IT requires a heavy investment of time and money to both implement and maintain, SMBs are typically more likely to try to do as much as possible with what they have. Ultimately, it means identifying strategic means and investing smartly in the right resources to keep their technology infrastructure resilient.

2. Security

Security incidents are growing at an exponential pace. There were more data leaks in the first half of 2017 alone than all of 2016 combined, and the pace is increasing rapidly. Unfortunately, SMBs lacking dedicated IT security experts are finding themselves at a disadvantage, since this is typically a luxury only enterprises can afford.

Whether it’s a question of securing BYOD mobility devices, monitoring networks for vulnerabilities, maintaining firewalls, or conducting patching and upgrades, SMBs are continually challenged to deploy the time and resources needed to prevent potentially catastrophic security incidents.

3. Lack of Strategic Planning Expertise

Beyond security, a lack of dedicated IT personnel puts most SMBs behind the curve when it comes to implementing and maintaining their network and infrastructure. Having access to strategic IT expertise is critical for meeting business goals.

For those SMBs who do have a dedicated IT staff, these personnel are often used in an operational and maintenance capacity only. Their jobs have more to do with keeping the technology running smoothly – a vital role, but one that doesn’t take into account strategic planning for the future.

Successful businesses take a strategic approach to ensure that their technology is perfectly aligned with their organizational needs – immediate and long-term. Sadly, having a CIO or technology strategist  is a luxury many smaller businesses simply can’t afford, so their technology continues to be implemented and managed on an ad-hoc basis rather than with an eye to the big picture.

4. Application Integration and Management

Enterprise-level businesses use as many as 91 cloud services and applications to handle day-to-day operations. While smaller SMBs will use significantly less, integrating and managing the ever-increasing number of new applications (both cloud and local) can become a major challenge.

Software applications should improve workflows and boost capabilities. Failing to manage them properly can result in crashes, poor system performance, and reduced productivity – all of which can lead to a reduction in overall business efficiency.

5. IT Asset Management

Hardware acquisition and disposition can be extremely tricky. Even if you’ve identified the technology you need to support your business goals, you’ll still need to source and acquire new technology while planning for the replacement and disposition of hardware nearing its operational end of life.

Do you have strong relationships with vendors? Are you able to leverage volume discounts and negotiate discounts? Have you identified which hardware needs to be replaced, and how? Managing your technology effectively is an essential part of a scalable and agile IT environment. However, this is another critical area in which many SMBs simply lack either the necessary expertise or the resources to implement a successful strategy.

6. Disaster Recovery Planning

Catastrophic data loss can cripple a business of any size. Unfortunately, SMBs can be particularly at risk: 43% of SMBs go out of business after a significant loss of data, while another 51% falter two years after an incident. Despite this, a lack of resources and awareness means many fail to put into place basic disaster recovery planning.

With so many cloud-based data security and recovery services available, SMBs can easily protect their operations from catastrophic disruption due to unforeseen events.

Overcome These Common SMB IT Challenges

Because of the time, money, and resources needed to effectively manage their technology, SMBs are vulnerable to losing competitive ground in the marketplace. That’s why more and more SMBs are turning towards managed IT services providers to help navigate their technology needs.

By outsourcing your technology operations and planning, you’ll gain access to the support and IT personnel that helps you reach your business goals, without incurring the cost of expanding your staff.