Tech Investment Dilemma: SMEs Dive into Opportunities, But Overlook Security Risks

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Embrace Tech Investment but Face Security Challenges

Across Europe, 100 million people are employed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The UK alone has over five million SMEs, contributing significantly to employment and turnover in the country. As crucial players in the economy, SMEs are continuously investing in automation, technology-led innovation, and bolstering their operations with robust security measures.

Our recent sixth bi-annual SME IT Trends survey reveals a positive trend in technology investment, with 82 percent of SMEs reporting an increase in IT budgets. A significant 20 percent of these businesses have experienced a budget boost of 20 percent. Looking ahead, 80 percent of survey respondents anticipate further increases in IT budgets by 2024.

While SMEs are actively embracing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for business growth, they are also facing a growing number of cybersecurity challenges. It is imperative for these organizations to make strategic decisions to enhance their security posture to safeguard their businesses and employees.

Key Areas of Investment and Concern

Identity management emerges as a critical area for investment, enabling IT administrators to streamline and centralize identity management while leveraging the benefits of cloud-based technology frameworks. This strategic shift empowers IT teams to adapt to evolving IT environments and meet employees’ changing needs without introducing unnecessary complexity.

Despite the positive momentum in technology investment, SMEs are grappling with cybersecurity worries, with 45 percent of respondents citing keeping pace with new services and app rollouts as a significant challenge. Additionally, compliance requirements are a growing concern, with 75 percent of organizations reporting an increase in regulatory demands.

Addressing Complexity in IT Management

Our survey highlights the complexity in IT management, with 60 percent of organizations using five or more tools for employee and application management. To address this challenge, over half of IT administrators are working towards centralizing security and employee access, aiming to reduce complexity and enhance operational efficiency.

Employee education on cybersecurity is on the rise, with 70 percent of survey respondents offering formal training programs. This emphasis on creating a strong security culture within organizations underscores the importance of education as a foundation for robust cybersecurity practices.

Advancing Security Technology

SMEs are increasingly adopting sophisticated security technologies, with two-thirds utilizing biometrics for employee authentication. While password access remains prevalent in 83 percent of organizations, the consideration of multi-factor authentication (MFA) for accessing IT resources is gaining traction, driven by a decline in trust in password-based security measures.

As SMEs strive for business agility and growth, it is essential to prioritize security measures to safeguard their operations and data. By investing in advanced security technologies and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, SMEs can navigate the evolving threat landscape and protect their businesses effectively.