Need to find a good survey on small business owner's IT concerns?
February 7, 2008 2:02 AM   Subscribe

I need to find a survey on the biggest concerns small business people have when it comes to I.T?

I thought this would be easy but its not - because so many hardware and software manufacturers have done so many "white papers" and "surveys" I am finding it hard to find an un-biased report / survey that is not sponsored.

Survey (preferably quantitative) / report should address the biggest concerns or issues that a small business owner has vis-a-vis daily computing.

Any links, articles, recommendations etc., appreciated.
posted by jacobean to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know of any articles off hand (would have to google a bit...however the SBA could be a good start). I do have some thoughts I'd follow when reading these surveys or articles though:

- TCO is primarily a Microsoft invention. I'm usually skeptical when TCO is brought up as it often includes arbitrary numbers thrown in the decision matrix to sway a potential customer in to deciding against a competitor. The concept is mostly sound though, just you'll want to take the "extra labor or support costs" with a grain of salt.

- Technology bubbles are a primary concern. A bubble is basically your max and min requirements for business operation. As time progresses, software becomes more and more feature-rich, which raises the overall processing power needed. Technology at the lower end of the bubble is phased out and needs to be replaced. If technology requirements don't push you to upgrade too keep up with competition, warranty expectations should.

- Security is a concern, especially when intellectual property and internal communications are meant to be kept within the company. Proper measures should be taken to make sure your network is secure if any part of it has access to the internet. Wireless security is another area that should be taken just a seriously. The machines themselves should be managed to the point where security threats via trojans, virii, spyware, and worms are minimized. Users within the company should only have access to data that is needed for them to perform their jobs.

- Building the right infrastructure is fairly important. Picking the right vendors, making decisions that are cost effective, reliable, and long lasting. TCO comes into play here, but again decisions should be based strictly on observable costs.

- And of course with all concerns, cost is a major factor.

(I'm sure there's many more ways to interpret the concerns of small business IT...and I'm sure each business with weight those concerns differently based on the companies core values...this is just my interpretation from the experience I've had within the field.)
posted by samsara at 6:49 AM on February 7, 2008

Here it is:

The biggest concern is: How do extract the most dollars-worth-of-work from the fewest-dollars-spent-on-IT.

That's all there is to it. ROI (Return On Investment). The rest is just details.
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2008

I too am interested in finding out more. I'd like to leverage OSS alternatives in business, if possible and finding out what concerns most businesses is a sure way to do that. From my admittedly limited experience, I can't say much. But from examining the problem space, some observations come up:

(Take this with a grain of salt)

Cost is a limiting factor. IT has a _perception_ of being expensive, intertwined with TCO above.

Enabling easier communication between those that need to communicate is very useful and has an insanely high ROI (above) that's not always obvious to a business owner.

Reducing friction in an office environment is always useful: Databases for holding information, extensive backups to recover from bad things, Internal Web service for disseminating information, File Servers to allow people to share things more easily, Email server, Print Server, etc. All of these technologies save hundreds of man-hours, with comparatively little investment in time and money.

Advertising, a good looking web site is worth it's weight in gold. People that find you for your product are sure to be impressed. And nothing looks worse for a businesses image than having a badly designed web site.
posted by Pontifex at 3:56 PM on February 8, 2008

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