Harnessing the full potential of IT solutions still a challenge faced by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)


A report commissioned by Konica Minolta has revealed the critical issues facing SMBs. The report gathered its findings via surveys conducted in the U.S, U.K, France and Germany, and was commissioned to gain a better understanding of the impact existing IT infrastructure and future technologies have on SMBs. Indeed, one in five SMBs cite IT infrastructure underdelivering as one of the three most significant challenges facing their business.

Common Challenges of IT

There are many key findings from the survey revealing the variety of critical IT challenges regularly plaguing SMBs. Some that we still take for granted in this day and age, yet have such a detrimental effect on a business. Broken IT is one of the main causes for concern, and Konica Minolta’s survey revealed that senior decision makers within organisations reporting hardware not working (27 percent), poor internet connectivity (20 percent) and servers crashing (20 percent) as some of the top issues.

Cybersecurity and data protection have been two of the most notable themes of 2018 for businesses. This year alone we have seen a multitude of repeated incidences of cyber-attacks and data leaks suffered by organisations making news headlines. 23 percent within SMBs poised security risks as a top challenge that their business incurs. Despite the onus for data handlers to employ more stringent protection protocols due to the introduction of GDPR, 24 percent of those surveyed considered the outdated software still employed hindering their business. The use of outdated software has the potential knock-on effect which can increase the businesses’ security risks.

Impact on Businesses

The report further reveals decision makers’ thoughts on how failures in IT harms their business. The IT challenges encountered by SMBs have many implications for the performances of a business. A significant portion in Konica Minolta’s report stated the significant time required to fix these problem (41 percent) as well as the cost to fix them (35 percent), which all add up to be a costly impact on the bottom-line revenue of a business.

Another facet of a business impacted by IT shortcomings is company growth. 37 percent stated that IT flaws consequently lowered employee productivity, whilst 35 percent believed the quality of work produced by their employees was diminished by such IT issues. Indeed, it’s arguable that as a result of these challenges and their implications, a business is unable to operate to its maximum potential.

Limiting Innovation

The majority of SMBs share the consensus that future technologies can have a positive impact. In fact, a significant 85 percent believed that innovations can improve a business’s productivity. However, many SMBs miss out on the benefits new IT solutions can bring because they can be a struggle to implement. It’s no secret that the integration of AI and machine learning are welcomed technologies, with the hype they have exuded over the years. This was reflected in the study, with more than half (56 percent) of key decision makers expressing excitement in regards to these advancements.

To benefit from AI and machine learning, companies must adopt cloud technologies, yet only 21 percent say they plan to do so in the next 3 years. There are a few reasons behind the reluctance to do so, these reasons include:

  • Technology is too expensive or budget is not available (31 percent)
  • Organisation does not have a use for the technology (29 percent)
  • Organisation does not have the expertise to use it (21 percent)

AI and Machine Learning for the Future

Many challenges that hinder the performance of a business can be attributed to the varying IT challenges that exist, some old and some more recent. Indeed, the IT issues facing businesses can even combine to have the impact of either limiting a companies’ potential revenue or slowing their growth entirely.

The majority of SMBs want to embrace new technologies such as AI and machine learning, some are cautiously optimistic about the technology but most recognise the positive impacts. As organisations make positive moves towards digital transformation, they will learn how to manage multiple systems and connecting disparate data points.

Author: Dr. Dennis Curry Executive Director and Deputy CTO at Konica Minolta