Training Is Important for SMBs, Too

Paul Mah

Some of you might recall that I wrote on McAfee's Security Quickstart Service for SMBs a couple of weeks ago. In covering McAfee's new service offerings for SMBs, an anecdote from Darrell Rodenbaugh, senior vice president of global midmarket for McAfee, got firmly etched in my mind.


As reported by eChannelLive:

He [Rodenbaugh] recalled a case where a customer who had several McAfee products was very unhappy with their anti-spyware product and this threatened all of McAfee's business with him. So McAfee engaged a reseller to check out the problem, who found the customer had never turned the anti-spyware product on.

I can imagine the embarrassment this must have caused the system or security administrator in that SMB, assuming it had one. It certainly doesn't look good to persuade your boss to buy a new product, make a fuss over it not working, and then discover that you were the one who forgot to enable it in the first place.


What is more likely, of course, is that the "IT guy" in this instance would be some staffer who just happens to be savvier with computers -- and who inadvertently got promoted to be the de-facto IT handyman at his workplace.


While it is tempting to snigger at the debacle, to pass on the entire incident as nothing more a joke would be missing the key lesson here. You see, the fact is that without proper training, this could well happen to the best of us.


Unlike larger organizations with annual training budgets and incentives to use them, many SMBs do not have a budget for training. In fact, SMBs might attempt to sweep the topic of training under the proverbial carpet by bluster about "hiring the right person." Yet this flawed thinking belies the fact that nobody could possibly be good at everything. In fact, the unrelenting pace of advancements in IT practically guarantees that there is no "right person" for companies that embraces this logic.


Paradoxically, training is actually more crucial for SMBs than for larger businesses. The reason is simple: Unlike the large business with established procedures and seniors with whom less confident employees can confer, small and mid-sized businesses by nature have a lower net level of experience on which to draw.


My point here? Training is important for small and medium businesses, and SMBs need to set aside a budget to send their staff for regular training and upgrading of their skills. What is your view on training?

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Mar 4, 2010 11:05 AM Jim Shields Jim Shields  says:

We work for lots of large companies creating effective awareness communications in the field of information security. The thing we see time and time again is that the issue of compliance becomes an ass-covering activity rather then an educational activity.

By making the training entertaining (dare we say...Viral?) you move the training into the 'pull' zone (ie employees beat a path to it because it's entertaining) from the "push" zone, where compliance departments simply threaten employees with penalties id they don't fill in the e-learning forms and complete the 'course'.

If someone (McAfee) was to create a series of entertaining resources that smb's could download and use (for free? Who knows), then their brand would be championed and their customer base helped beyond recognition.  We're already doing this for Barclays, Verizon, Experian and BUPA (UK).  Example here...

SMB's really need some help, in a way that makes it palatable.

There. I've said it. I feel much better now.



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