What keeps UK SMEs awake at night?
Research commissioned by Konica Minolta reveals how executives are under pressure to meet data security challenges, bridge the skills gap and meet compliance obligations.
As the leader of a UK small/medium-sized enterprise (SME), what keeps you awake at night? Is it the pressure to meet ever-more sophisticated customer demands? Drive sales growth? Lower your cost of operation? Or is it all of these?
Running an SME in the UK can be like walking a tightrope. You are under intense pressure from every angle to deliver on your goals – but you have less and less resources to achieve it.
You’re not alone. Research commissioned by Konica Minolta and conducted by Kingpin – an international marketing agency dedicated to helping business-to-business (B2B) technology brands connect with audiences throughout the buying journey – shines a spotlight on the challenges UK SMEs face, both from a business and technology perspective.
The technology challenges for UK SMEs are particularly fascinating. According to the study, those challenges primarily point to issues with data. Security is the foremost IT challenge. UK SMEs are increasingly alarmed by the malicious or inadvertent loss of data – fuelled no doubt by the almost daily reports of organisations that have experienced a crippling data leak, with the resultant damage to the brand and financial penalties.
Simultaneously, respondents also acknowledge the need for appropriate security to keep abreast of current and emerging statutory regulations, such as the GDPR regulations governing data privacy and other data protection obligations.
This emphasis on security helps explain the second most prevalent IT challenge for SMEs: data protection and recovery. At a simple level, many organisations lack a consistent and reliable process for watertight data protection. Too often, data is left unguarded in remote offices, it relies on manual, time-consuming backup intervention, or the legacy data protection processes don’t cater for data residing on the plethora of different platforms and devices.
This also ties into the third IT challenge cited by UK SMEs: “managing data”. The difficulty lies in managing the vast volumes, variety and velocity of data moving around the organisation. This includes the structured and unstructured data emanating from every business unit – including finance, sales, marketing and service. It includes the fact data resides on so many different devices, including servers, PCs and tablets. And the most challenging factor in all this? These data volumes are rising relentlessly.
Other key IT challenges include the difficulty in keeping pace with new technology – should the company invest, for example, in the latest server virtualisation technology? Cloud hosting? Or modern customer relationship management (CRM) systems?
The business challenges facing SMEs echo those in IT. Security is again the predominant challenge, followed by finding people with the right skills, meeting regulatory compliance obligations and lowering costs.
The issue of skills is interesting. SMEs find it increasingly difficult to attract, develop and retain suitably qualified technicians to manage the IT environment. These skills are in short supply and are frequently absorbed by larger organisations with the talent management strategies, resources and remuneration policies to outbid SMEs for skills.
Managed IT services drive agility and innovation
The Kingpin research offers advice to help tackle these challenges. Managed IT services, the report argues, allow your business to focus on what it does best – its core business – while benefiting from a managed infrastructure that meets your daily demands. Secure, cost-effective and offering the reliable performance your users expect, this managed approach also provides the agility to pivot quickly and take advantage of emerging opportunities, such as digital transformation, mobility and the cloud.
The bottom line? Managed IT services help you find the clarity needed to make better decisions, support change with flexibility and speed, and gain a competitive advantage for long-term success.
You can download the full research report here.