Australian small businesses spent, on average, $52,100 on information technology products and services over the last 12 months, according to research commissioned by software security company Trend Micro.
Small businesses with between five and 25 employees spent an average of $25,200 per year, while businesses with between 26 and 50 staff spent $20,600 and businesses with 51 to 100 employees spent, on average, $77,300 on IT in the last year.
The survey of 300 SMEs found the way in which IT was managed across a business depended heavily on the size of the business, with smaller businesses more likely to manage IT simply on an ad hoc basis, and those with more employees more likely to have dedicated IT support.
Of those businesses surveyed, 35% had one or more employees dedicated full-time to IT support, while 24% had one or more full-time employees to handle IT on a part-time basis, in conjunction with other work duties.
Only 11% of those businesses surveyed did not have a specific IT resource, either internally or externally, and said that work was done on an ad hoc basis.
Nearly one quarter of SMEs surveyed said they had external technology consultants and channel partners provide their IT support, a figure much larger than other countries around the world.
Mark Sinclair, head of small and medium business at Trend Micro, said if small business owners have to manage IT themselves it can lead to inefficiencies and increased security incidents.
“In those small businesses with more staff, it is more likely to find a one-person IT department, but that IT resource is bogged down on day to day activity with little time or headspace for strategic IT planning,” he said in a statement.
Craig Reardon, director of independent web services firm The E Team and SmartCompany blogger, says using the wrong fundamental technology can lead to high IT costs.
“At the small business level a lot of that is around the wrong platform or technology cost and there is an assumption of impartiality that just is not there,” Reardon says.
He says the likely cost to SMEs of IT also depends on how primary a channel to market technology is.
“The notion of websites and technology is now part of your operations rather than just a marketing channel,” he says.
“For those who transact online it is critical that they get the right technology and they expect to pay more as a result of that as well.”
Reardon says businesses can be divided into those which use a website as an “online brochure” and those which see online as crucial to their operations.
Reardon says to keep IT spend down SMEs need to check the impartiality of their providers and not just go with the in-house solution.
“At board level there needs to be real IT expertise, tech needs to be part of a business not just an add-on,” he says.