Survey: IT Skills Important to SMBs


IT Services TeamCompanies of all sizes are discovering the value of IT services and appointing tech-savvy professionals to work on business operations and communications. By partnering with IT service providers, companies are enjoying the perks of consistent network management, operational efficiency and transparent communications. Costly glitches and setbacks in business growth can be alleviated or avoided with accurate IT services, while working with a third party can reduce costs of maintenance and infrastructure to improve the bottom line.

Small businesses in particular are looking to cost-effective IT services and solutions to increase efficiency and productivity in an affordable manner, without derailing business plans of growth and innovation. By working with third party providers with essential IT skills and expertise, small businesses are ensuring a high level of interoperability and functionality with minimal investments in employees or infrastructure. Thus, IT services are allowing smaller enterprises to compete with major counterparts in numerous industries and markets.

The right stuff
The National Cyber Security Alliance recently conducted a survey of small-business owners to gauge what employee and third party worker skills are most valuable in the current economy. The survey found 53 percent of U.S. small-business owners feel any new worker or contractor should have strong computer skills, with specific knowledge of online safety and security. The focus on IT skills demonstrates a transition in the general makeup of business models - there is greater emphasis on computer literacy and technology expertise, as IT is found to affect all aspects of company operations.

"Small businesses are a driving force of our economy, and new technologies and online services are becoming an everyday part of how SMBs run their businesses," said Brian Burch, IT expert. "According to research, SMBs have become a key target for cybercriminals and that trend is bound to continue. Small business owners and employees must do a better job not only becoming better educated on cybersecurity, but also better at implementing technologies to protect themselves and the information that fuels their businesses."

Double check new hires
In response to the survey results, researchers recommend small-business owners test the IT skills and expertise of new hires and third party providers before agreeing to a partnership. After finding the right IT team and technology solutions to implement, small-business owners must also develop policies to ensure best practices are followed by all departments.

When a company outsources its IT services to a third party provider, there is still responsibility on other employees and departments to maintain a certain level of IT integrity and protection to ensure information is secure and not prone to a breach. To achieve this, IT experts can work with managers to establish certain ground rules regarding password protection, encryption practices and consistent security solutions on all networks and devices. Likewise, third party providers can keep the rest of the small-business team up-to-date on the latest innovations and threats so employees are aware and vigilant for security problems.