Lack of resources and inhouse skills are preventing the majority of small UK businesses from fully exploiting IT.
This is the conclusion of a survey sponsored by the Institute of Management, the DTI and Compaq, which questioned over 700 UK companies with fewer than 250 employees. It found that two-thirds of these organisations, which saw themselves as above average users, lacked sufficient resources to make the most even of their existing IT systems.
Cost was cited as the biggest barrier to making effective use of IT. Given that 27 per cent said difficulty in getting impartial advice was the second biggest, it is no surprise that nearly 80 per cent rated expertise as the most important factor when using outside consultants.
More than half of the companies relied on suppliers, often high street retailers, for knowledge and assistance in implementing new IT projects. However, less than 15 per cent were taking advantage of the free advice available from government organisations such as Business Links or TECs.
?Small businesses need to be switched on to the full potential of IT. However, managers are failing to connect with current information networks. Government needs a systematic strategy for linking small businesses with the IT advice they need,? said Roger Young, Institute of Management director general.
According to the survey, IT is used mainly for administration and financial management in small businesses, although their use of email and the Internet were earmarked as growth areas.
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