Nearly half of small businesses have delayed, cancelled or halted IT projects because of the economic uncertainty. This includes programs for security, disaster recovery, regulatory compliance and problem response. Another one in four received a failing grade (a D or an F) in IT, while just over a third barely scraped by with a C grade.
The above were the conclusions of the IT Effectiveness Index (ITEI) Mid-Year Report, released earlier this week. In addition, the report found that among SMBs:
- Only 30 percent have a fully implemented security program.
- Just 42 percent said they're fully compliant with governmental regulations and policies (e.g., HIPAA, PCI).
- Just 26 percent have a fully implemented disaster recovery (DR) or business continuity (BC) plan.
On one hand, the atrocious state of IT in SMBs hardly comes as a surprise. After all, a recent survey by security vendor Symantec has found that a large number of SMBs ignore even basic security measures. Among others, large numbers of SMBs do not implement antivirus protection (one third) or back up their PCs (half).
Yet there is no doubt that the dismal situation highlighted above is worrying, especially with only a quarter saying they have a fully implemented DR or BC plan. With the flu pandemic in full swing and winter on its way, it is imperative that these basic measures be in place if we are to plan for the worst.
Certainly, the lack of awareness cannot be an excuse, since good practices aren't exactly trade secrets - one can easily tap into IT Business Edge's Knowledge Network to exchange ideas or to seek advice, for example. In fact, I recently wrote a number of blogs relating to related topics such as backup strategies for SMBs and also compiled an SMB guide of all my DR and BC tips and best practices.
Steven Kahan of The Planet, one of a consortium of sponsors behind ITEI, sums up the situation. "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."
I think the study is a good wake-up call that small and medium-sized businesses need to put more emphasis into the management of IT. On this front, I will be sharing some simple IT management strategies for SMBs to avoid potentially catastrophic missteps, so stay tuned.
The ITEI Mid-Year Report was compiled from results from the IT Effectiveness Index online survey, which was designed to measure IT effectiveness in small and medium sized businesses. The survey is free and provides a personalized report with suggestions on how to improve one's IT processes immediately upon completion.