Small Businesses Are In IT Dark Ages, Says Intel

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An Intel/CBI survey finds the UK’s small business are missing out on IT benefits.

Small businesses in the UK are missing out on the benefits of cloud computing  – and don’t even understand what it is, according to an Intel survey, backed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Half of those surveyed said they did not know what the cloud is, and a large proportion were using it unknowingly: up to half the companies who were actually using cloud services like Gmail, still claimed not to be using the cloud.  The report, which questioned 3000 small businesses with under 250 staff also found that fax machines are more used than smartphones, and a third of them have no plans to buy new laptops or tablets for at least a year.

Clouded thinking

“The penetration of cloud is higher than awareness of it,” said Graham Palmer, managing director of Intel UK. “Forty-eight percent  didn’t know what cloud is, despite the omnipresent coverage of cloud in the media. We have hit half this audience, but the other half don’t understand the opportunity.”

Palmer believes the outdated IT in the UK’s small businesses is an opportunity for greater efficiency – and also for more Intel sales: “They probably have a supply chain that could help them with the issues they are struggling with, if only they had the conversation. There are few things that deliver efficiency improvements, and IT is one of them.”

For instance, 38 percent of IT decision makers (and 40.5 percent of users) still use a fax machine every day – a function which could be provided more securely and conveniently by more modern technology, said Palmer. Meanwhile, only 16 percent of IT users get the benefits of a smartphone.

More worryingly, firms are not treating security carefully enough. While 42 percent of people responding used a personal phone for work, and 39 percent used a personal laptop, more than a third of the IT decision makers (36.5 percent) were unaware that this could expose them to a danger of breaking rules regarding the handling of customer data.

“The majority of issues, like segregating business data versus personal data, have been resolved,” said Palmer. “There are good templates and cookbooks on how to deploy those technologies.”

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