Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Global IT: To Have Or Not To Have

Microsoft Corporation launched the results of its "Global Small Business Index, October 2008" looking at how small businesses use and manage their IT, as well as their attitudes toward hosted IT services. There is a growing demand for software as a service worldwide.

Findings vary across the board from country to country:

- Half of the small organizations were found to receive some kind of information or support from public services or government bodies. The exceptions were Russia, where the figure is 32 percent; Italy, where it is 39 percent; and Japan, where the figure is 40 percent.

- Overall, 61 percent of respondents said that professional-looking communications were either “critical” or “very important.” Swedish, Russian and Australian small businesses are especially keen to promote the professional image, while Japanese and Chinese small businesses thought it a lower priority.

- While only 15 percent of respondents noted “IT issues” as one of their top three time-consuming activities, in certain countries this task was seen as much more time-consuming — for example, in Sweden and Canada.

- Sweden was seen to be at the vanguard of IT utilization among respondent countries, with above-average adoption of technologies such as mobile e-mail, company-branded e-mail, customer databases and e-commerce Web sites. The U.K. and Russia also scored highly, with China and France showing less adoption of technologies.

- The U.S. and France are the countries where small businesses are most likely not to have any IT, both at 9 percent. Only 3 percent of Russian small businesses have no IT.

- Most of the time, IT support is provided by either the respondent or by someone within the organization, either a professional or an amateur. Occasionally, small companies will recognize that they need to invest in professional IT support; as suggested earlier, this is particularly so in Australia, where 34 percent of respondents used an external IT service and support company.

- The local or national retailer of IT support is very important in this context, as is the online merchant. Around 89 percent of the respondent organizations use one of these three sources. While the British and French respondents use online more than most, Australian and Japanese organizations seem to prefer the local IT provider.

- Overall, 65 percent of respondents said either “yes” or “maybe” when asked if they would consider using a hosting service.

- About 47 percent of small businesses in total said their business would be better if they had more IT resources. Russian (72 percent) and Chinese (83 percent) small businesses felt most strongly about this, suggesting that small businesses in those countries felt IT provided a competitive enablement and advantage.

- About 58 percent of small businesses revealed they use IT skills in-house, while 63 percent (in another question) said they believed larger enterprises with more IT resources gain a competitive advantage. Swedish small businesses were most likely (23 percent) to employ an IT specialist, while many Canadian (20 percent) small businesses also employed an IT specialist. About 34 percent of Australian small businesses used outside IT services and support, much more than any other country.

More here.

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