Government fails to give IT support to SMEs

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Government fails to give IT support to SMEs

Antony Savvas

Central and local government is failing to support the IT needs of SMEs.

A national survey conducted by researchers from the School of Management at Royal Holloway at the University of London found government is failing to give IT advice to SMEs.

As a result the businesses are not exploiting IT to its full potential, said the college.

The college began a research project into the issue in 2007, collaborating with Nammis, a software consultancy company.

The team contacted over 500 SMEs in the food, clothing, manufacturing and financial services industries, with most companies having been established for at least five years.

Dr Romano Dyerson, a member of the college research team, said, "SMEs find themselves in a difficult situation, too small to employ a dedicated IT expert and lacking the resources to buy consultancy advice."

While firms across all four sectors reported very high usage of email and internet, very few firms embraced the potential of the internet wholeheartedly and most did not use the internet to receive customers' orders or to order online.

None of the businesses in the financial sector had approached government or a local authority for advice.

Only 3% of SMEs in the clothing sector had used government for advice while in the manufacturing and food sectors the figures stood at 1% and 5 % respectively.

"The survey finds that SMEs are poorly served by government and policy providers," said Dr Dyerson. "What is unclear is whether this reflects a lack of provision on the part of official bodies, or is an indication of the quality of advice offered."

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