Initial results from a new online survey designed to measure IT effectiveness at small businesses shows almost one in four respondents score a “D” or “F” grade for their current IT solutions. According to the IT Effectiveness Index (ITEI) Mid-Year Report, another 37 percent of small businesses are barely maintaining their IT operations, scoring only a “C” grade. The report, based on surveying hundreds of small businesses, further reveals that these companies are falling further behind as economic pressures have forced nearly half of the respondents to reduce, delay or cancel critical IT investments.
The ITEI program offers a free online benchmarking tool for small businesses to audit their IT effectiveness, and explore best practices and affordable options and alternatives for improving or maintaining effective IT standards. In addition, the ITEI will begin providing survey participants with free peer comparisons based on company size and industry. The free online survey and tool can be found at www.iteffectivenessindex.com. “The results to date indicate that many small businesses are falling behind when it comes to implementing accepted best practices for IT operations and management,” according to Steven Kahan of The Planet, one of a consortium of sponsors behind ITEI.
The results so far are especially disturbing, according to Kahan, since more than two thirds
of the small businesses responding to the survey indicated that IT and Web commerce are the foundations that enable their business success. “The IT Effectiveness Index is telling us that in nearly two thirds of businesses with 100 employees or less, IT operations are failing to fully support or keep pace with small business needs,” he emphasized.
In many cases, he explains, the symptoms of mediocre or failing IT grades are displayed in a lack of security protection against cyber threats, an inability to prepare for or respond to incidents, as well as growing concerns about IT availability and unacceptable levels in downtime of IT systems.
“The take away from all of this,” according to Anita Campbell, principal of Small Business Trends (http://smallbiztrends.com), “is that small businesses are finding themselves at a competitive disadvantage. During the recession, some have had to make do with less staff, cancel or put IT projects on hold, and slash capital expenditures in their IT budgets. The benchmarking and self-audit tool helps small businesses understand where they have fallen behind so they can work on the building blocks for better technology effectiveness, leading to greater overall success in their businesses.”
Survey results also show that nearly half the businesses are facing obstacles in implementing new IT projects because of cuts in capital investments, and nearly one third lack the staff to properly manage their IT investments.