Small business owners are known for their do-it-yourself attitude; however, there is one instance where that attitude can backfire in a big way.
New research from Microsoft and AMI-Partners has found that small businesses without a trained and dedicated information technology (IT) manager costs those businesses in the place they can least afford…employee productivity. It is estimated that businesses lose $24 billion in productivity each year when nontechnical employees take care of a company's IT needs. That's in addition to the $83 billion that small businesses already spend on IT and communications.
The researchers arrived at $24 billion by estimating the cost of employees having to switch from work to IT tasks. Overall, the average involuntary IT manager loses six hours a week, or 300 hours a year, of business productivity. However, the researchers also found that companies with more employees lose more productivity as a result of unqualified IT workers.
Not only are IT problems affecting business productivity, they are also causing problems for employee morale as well. The researchers found that 30 percent of workers involuntarily placed in charge of IT felt it was a nuisance. Additionally, 26 percent of those workers say they do not feel qualified to manage day-to-day IT tasks.
"Many small businesses don't have the budget for formal IT support, so they rely on the company's most tech-savvy individual to manage their technology," said Andy Bose, founder, chairman and CEO at AMI-Partners, which conducted the research. "As our research shows, relying on an involuntary IT manager can have an adverse impact on small businesses' productivity, which can negatively affect revenue and translates into a very high opportunity cost. These companies can potentially leverage cloud services to alleviate the need for day-to-day in-house IT support with positive impact on their business productivity."
Many small businesses appear to agree and, as a result, 33 percent of companies are planning to shift spending to cloud solutions. Though small businesses are beginning to turn to the cloud, they are still worried about a number of issues, including security, privacy and reliability of the cloud for their business.
"The cloud when delivered right is a game-changer, providing small businesses with the IT solutions they need to solve their most challenging small-business technology concerns," said Thomas Hansen , vice president of small and medium-size business worldwide at Microsoft.
The research was based on the responses of 538 involuntary IT managers in small businesses with at least 100 employees. The businesses were based in five countries: Australia, Brazil, Chile, India and the United States.