smb-tech-trendsWhen it comes to IT, confidence affects its strategic use by small and mid-sized businesses to drive business and achieve goals, a new study says.

Symantec Corp. surveyed nearly 2500 small and mid-sized businesses across the globe to determine how confident they were in their use of IT as a strategic business tool.  Based on responses, the global security solutions provider developed its “2013 Global SMB IT Confidence Index.” Symantec used the ratings to identify three tiers of companies,  contrasting the top tier with the bottom tier to assess significant differences.

Confidence comes from the top

Small and mid-sized businesses with a high IT confidence score traced that attitude back to their founder. Among top tiers, 74 percent said that the founder’s previous business experience influenced the company’s view on IT compared to 61 percent of businesses with low-ranking index scores. In addition, Symantec found that 83 percent of top-tier small and mid-sized businesses use IT as a strategic business enabler, compared to just 44 percent of bottom-tier SMBs.

Top tiers are also more likely to invest in a high quality IT infrastructure and deploy advanced computing platforms, such Cloudas cloud computing and mobility. Top-tier companies see these trends as being worth the risk far more than the bottom-tier companies.

Better business results tied to IT confidence

The survey also found that 81 percent of small and mid-sized businesses believe that by using IT strategically, they can increase market share. By comparison, only 35 percent of the lower-confidence tier companies express this sentiment. Also top-tier small and mid-sized businesses have made information security a business priority, with 78 percent stating that they are somewhat/extremely secure versus 39 percent of the bottom tier.  Specifically, the higher-ranking tier says they experience fewer cyber-attacks and monetary losses (51 percent lower annual loss from cyber-attacks) than bottom-tier counterparts.

Embrace IT for success

To follow in the footsteps of small and mid-sized businesses successfully leveraging IT to achieve their goals, Symantec recommends:

  • Consider long-term cost and value when making decisions about IT. Determine what technologies will separate you from the competition.
  • Match IT to your business goals. Consider advanced technologies mobile – mobile web, apps, devices, mobile payments, etc. – and cloud computing. Also focus on efficiency with such technologies as video conferencing and online collaboration to reduce travel and landline costs.
  • Keep your IT house in order: Especially when it comes to security, keep your security software up to date, back up data and have a disaster preparedness plan in place.

Where does your small business rank on the IT confidence index?