Tag: SMEs

Poor internet connections cost UK £11 billion

DaisyA survey commissioned by the Daisy Group estimates that slow net connections cost the UK a staggering £11 billion a year.

The research was carried out by One Poll on Daisy’s behalf, and surveyed 2,000 adults.

According to the report, 72 percent of the estimated 30 million workers in the UK use the net as part of their daily tasks.

Thirty nine percent of the respondents said home net connections were “much faster” than the ones used for work.

Daisy product manager Jan Wielding said too many businesses used basic ADSL connections aimed at home users. “These are the businesses that struggle to cope with the high bandwidth demands of software and apps that workers use.:

Wielenga said this was unacceptable, particularly when fibre and dedicated Ethernet are cheaper than ever and widely available.

Over 60 percent of the people surveyed said they used their smartphones for non related work activities. And when the business net goes down, nine per cent scurry to see if there are other jobs going, using their smartphones.

The survey appears to show that the average British worker loses 38 hours of productivity a year because of downtime or slow access – meaning something like £494 worth of productivity is lost a year.

Wielenga said that there is a lack of awareness in small to medium enterprises that a government sponsored Super Connected Cities scheme will subsidise the the cost of a much faster connection.

Daisy is hosting a webinar on the 26th of March, in conjunction with the CBI, to help SMEs through the maze.

SMEs want investigation into Capita

parliamentA report said 12 small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are asking the government to investigate IT giant Capita for allegedly damaging their business.

According to the Independent, the Cabinet Office has started an investigation into Capita after the group of SMEs alleged that it was exploiting their suppliers over a civil service training scheme.

Capita secured a £250 million deal three years ago to provide civil service training in a move that was intended to open the public sector to SMEs.

But the SMEs have made a number of allegations including paying invoices late, taking big fees for training contracts, and hiring sub contractors to work directly for Capita rather than farming the work out to the small businesses.

Capita is also alleged to have introduced non competing clauses for SMEs involved in business which precluded them getting work without its permission.

The Cabinet Office said it was taking the allegations seriously. It said government policy is to support SMEs. Capita said it had changed its policies on late payment and it had abandoned its policy of non compete clauses.

Broadband essential to SMEs

oldphoneA survey has revealed that Britain’s small to medium enterprises (SMEs) still have worries about growing their businesses in 2015.
The survey, commissioned by TalkTalk Business, asked 1,000 British small businesses how optimistic they are about revenues and growth this year.
Of those surveyed, 27 percent are “very optimistic”, but of those remaining, 20 percent don’t think 2015 will be a bumper year.
Obviously TalkTalk has an agendum with this survey and the results showed close to 90 percent of the SMEs believed broadband connectivity is vital to their businesses.
The top five priorities the survey discovered for SMEs is that they wanted to grow revenues; improve their teams’ morale; expand their businesses; cut costs; and invest in new technology.
TalkTalk has launched a broadband package aimed at SMEs, and figures it has released claim that its business package is cheaper than BT Business Unlimited, Plusnet unlimited and Chess essential max broadband.

 

Tech entrepreneur wins gong

Lawrence Jones, UK FastA Manchester man who runs a small to medium sized business (SMB) is recognised  in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

Lawrence Jones (pictured) runs hosting and colocation firm UKFast and received an MBE for his services to the UK’s digital economy.

Jones said his company specialises in helping UK SMEs by providing small firms with high end tech that are normally affordable only to enterprises.

He said: “We, the SMEs, are the ones that are paying tax, not the big boys with the clever tax planning.”

Small companies drive the UK economy, he said. His 15-year old company turns over £30 million a year and has 200 employees.

He said: “As an entrepreneur you find yourself carrying on regardless, working your hardest, even when there are not many people who pat you on the back. I am tremendously proud to be British and to get an honour like this makes all of the hard work worthwhile.”

* Inventor Trevor Baylis has received a CBE in the Honours list. He invented the Baygen wind up radio, and received the award for services to intellectual property.

SMEs held back by poor networks

whiffyA survey said that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are worried about poor networking and security.

The survey, commissioned by Netgear which has something of an axe to grind, chose 500 companies with between one and 250 employees showed the SMEs’ concerns.

Three quarters of the firms said having a wireless network is essential to their business.  That figure rises to 84 percent for firms hiring more than 100 people.

A large number rely on wireless networks with 74 percent saying it makes the company more productive, and 75 percent saying it improves customer services.

But one in three firms surveyed said they had struggled to install an effective and secure wireless service.

And 31 percent thought about dropping all their IT wireless plans after they’d had bad experience with quality and reliability. A third worried about data security while a quarter weren’t sure how to introduce wi-fi into existing IT infrastructure.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 comes to pass

microsoft-in-chinaSoftware supremo Microsoft said it has made available a product which it claims will help small to medium sized businesses (SMBs)  grow their revenues.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV is business management software and is now optimised for mobile and for cloud, the company claimed.

Features include tablet and touch features that let SMBs access data from any place or  on devices that include apps from Apple, Google and Microsoft app stores.

There’s a simplified way of designing invoices that syncs with Microsoft Word. Microsoft says that allows people to create their own customised invoice templates.

It also has new capabilities for electronic payments and account reconciliation.

SMEs targeted by malware

skullkSmall and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are under attack by malware crooks, according to antivirus firm Bitdefender.

Bitdefender said that some SME employees in the UK are being hoodwinked into downloading trojans by suggesting the people have violeted company policy.

Apparently, the attacks grew last week, with .ARJ compressed files using the Zbot or Zeus malware.  British companies affected appear to be companies that offer military clothing or products to the defence or security industry.

Zbot/Zeus has a password stealing component intended to grab user names and passwords, email and FTP credentials.

The attack comes with a malicious email that opens an .rtf document that has information about policy violation.  In the background, the malware attempts to connect to Zbot infected websites.

Bitdefender has supplied a screen shot of a typical email.
zbot

Avnet in EMC push

Avnet's Lee BushnellDistributor Avnet said it has introduced a programme called Altitude aimed at small and medium sized businesses.

The programme promotes EMC storage and back up devices and aims to help its resellers offer VNXe storage and Data Domain backup products.

The scheme centres around an online configuration tool that lets resellers calculate price for the EMC products without needing to contact Avnet.  Using a secure portal, the configurator is available at all times.

Lee Bushnell, EMC business manager at Avnet UK (pictured), said that the programme will help resellers to secure lucrative revenue streams with attractive pricing.

Resellers can avail themselves of training on the portal along with sales information, data sheets and product training.

Sharp readies cloud push

Clouds in Oxford: pic Mike MageeSMEs are not taking sufficient advantage of the opportunities and cost advantages of the cloud, according to a survey by Sharp.

It has launched its Cloud Portal Office today, a subscription based model aimed at SMEs with data held at Amazon Cloud Services in Dublin.

Chris Hale, product manager of software at Sharp UK told ChannelEye that people running small to medium enterprises often didn’t realise the savings that could be made by having their data in the cloud, rather than in their offices. There were advantages from the security aspect too, with backups held remotely in case of fires or other catastrophes.

Hale said companies often had little idea how much it cost to maintain their own IT equipment costs.  The Cloud Portal offering, while launched today, will go live on the 2nd of December next giving it time to train its own direct and its channels’ indirect sales force.

SMEs, Sharp said, are “not only failing to realise the business benefits the cloud can bring, but also can lose control of networks and introducing vulnerabilities”.  Of the 1,500 plus employees surveyed across Europe, 83 percent didn’t think that they had an official cloud network in the workplace.

UK government hunts for best SME bank

ukflagThe government said that the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) will hold a survey to find out which bank is best at servicing small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Of course the UK taxpayers already largely own the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), after having had to bail it out in 2008. It formerly speicialised in the SME sector but is still in a woeful way.

The independent survey will talk to high street banks, challenger banks and alternative money suppliers in a bid to get the full picture.

George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he wanted British banks to put Britain’s small businesses at the top of their priority list.

Earlier today, the National Audit Office said that there are financial problems facing British SMEs, which are likely to needan additional £22 billion by 2017.

It said in a statement there is a lack of clarity what different schemes are expected to deliver. “Although the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and HM Treasury both have teams dealing with ‘enterprise policy’, there is no formal research programme joining the Department with other departments, such as HMRC, with an interest in SMEs.”

ASM launches SME Access Service for channel

poundsASM Technologies has announced a new service designed to help the channel gain lucrative public sector contracts my sticking to strict government guidelines, which require that 25 to 50 percent of all IT contracts flow through SMEs.

The new SME Access Service aims to allow big IT resellers to add hundreds of SMEs to their books, allowing them to navigate through the public sector. It provides system integrators and value added resellers with direct access to ASM’s agile distribution network of SMEs, which should allow them to meet government requirements.

The government currently mandates that public sector organisations must award at least a quarter of all contracts to SMEs by 2015. SMEs are defined as enterprises with a turnover of less than €50 million or fewer than 250 employees. As the euro sign indicates, this is the EU-wide definition.

The requirement means that the channel has to establish new supplier relationships and tap more SMEs in order to bid for government contracts. While it is a clever way of supporting SMEs, it also tends to drive costs up and reduce revenue, as multiple SMEs sometimes must be brought in to bid for a contract.

ASM’s goal is to cut costs and save time by establishing distribution agreements with multiple suppliers, which would make it possible for SIs and VARs to bid for government contracts they otherwise wouldn’t be eligible for. In addition, it allows them to get access to products and services are more competitive prices.

“A number of large resellers have considered adding SMEs to their supply chains in order to meet government requirements, however with contracts to draw up, terms agreed, credit lines to be established and distribution infrastructures to put in place, they are finding this to be a slow, painful and expensive process – especially when they’re trying to sign up a few hundred SMEs in one go,” said Iain Tomkinson, Sales Director at ASM Technologies. “By taking advantage of our existing supplier relationships and agile channel infrastructure, the SME Access Service provides greater efficiencies for the IT channel through immediate access to over 1200 SMEs through just one supplier relationship, so they can continue to bid successfully for government contracts.”

ASM argues that its new programme is a win-win for all involved, as it helps SMEs get more business and build relationships within the channel, while at the same allowing big SIs and VARs to bid for contracts that would be out of their reach without some SMEs on board.

EU firms complacent on data risk

ironmountainCABusinesses, overwhelmed by an ever increasing surge of data to deal with, are in danger of becoming complacent about data loss.

A survey from Iron Mountain and PwC has determined there is an increasing awareness in information risk, but many SMEs just don’t have the tools in place to deal with the reams of data and in multiple formats. There is also a danger of more sophisticated security threats as well as needing to treat information management as essential to business.

Under half of businesses surveyed in the 2013 Risk Maturity Index said they had a strategy in place for measuring and combating information risk – even as the average number of data breaches increase by 50 percent each year.

Of those asked, over half were so overwhelmed by the threat of data breaches that they acknowledge they’ll never be able to keep up, while 41 percent said data loss is an “inevitable part of daily business”.

Evaluating 600 European SMEs with between 250 and 2,500 employees, across the legal, financial, pharma, insurance, manufacturing and engineering sectors, there was some improvement compared to last year in understanding information risk. Using a set of metrics based on the amount of data protection in place, it rates companies at a target score of 100. This year European companies scored an average of 56.8 compared to 40.6 last year, but clearly there is a long way to go.

PwC Risk partner Claire Reid said that businesses will have to embrance a “new way of thinking” – where data security will be a top priority and also a way to create value.

SME supply chain initiative welcomed by disties

Hands across the waterDisties have cautiously welcomed plans for big retailers to allow SMEs into their supply chains.

The plans, which are being spear-headed by Business In The Community (BITC), wants companies across the UK to commit to making their contracting processes and procedures more amenable to smaller companies.

According to the charity, 99 percent of businesses are SMEs.  It said that since 2008, nine out of ten unemployed people who have found work in the private sector have been employed by SMEs, pointing out that in the current economic climate, successful partnerships between large and small businesses have never been more important.

BITC now wants signatories to the ‘access pledge’ promise to make their business, fair and simple, transparent, on a level playing field, and open, for all suppliers.

It already has committed Goldman Sachs to making its contracts more accessible by  reducing the costs to SMEs of bidding by paying for the majority of vendor screening activity itself.

Asda, which is focusing on boosting the ethnic diversity of its supply chain, and Santander, which has made all non-disclosure agreements valid for 12 months for any deal they bid for, are among the other companies cited by BITC.

Disties have welcomed the moves but have also been sceptical.

“It’s a good idea and it’s pleasing to see that big companies are taking part of these initiatives,” one told ChannelEye.

“However, whether it’ll actually be taken up properly and after the press has died down, remains to be seen. Somehow I don’t think we’ll see much publicity,” he added.

Another shared a similar outlook.

“Making transparency in the supply chain can only be a good thing. However, big brands are all over this trying to show they are making a difference.

“The problem here is that smaller businesses trying to make a change could be swamped and therefore competition is already stifled,” he added.

SMEs at centre of cyber attacks

SymantecheadquartersTargeted security attacks rose by 42 percent in 2012, with cybercriminals targeting SMEs, Symantec has found.

In its Internet Security Threat Report the company said these threats were designed to
steal intellectual property, and were increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector as well as small businesses, which were the target of 31 percent of these attacks.

Small businesses are apparently attractive targets themselves and a way in to ultimately reach larger companies via “watering hole” techniques, Symantec said, citing a threefold rise in the number of attacks on these size businesses compared to 2011.

It said that while small businesses  could feel they were immune to targeted attacks, cybercriminals were enticed by these organisations’ bank account information, customer data and intellectual property. Attackers hone in on small businesses that may often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure, the company said.

Web-based attacks increased by 30 percent in 2012, which Symantec said originated from the compromised websites of small businesses.

It pointed out that these websites were used in massive cyber-attacks as well as “watering hole” attacks. In a watering hole attack, the attacker compromises a website, such as a blog or small business website, which is known to be frequently visited by the victim of interest. When the victim later visits the compromised website, a targeted attack payload is silently installed on their computer.

Shifting from governments, manufacturing  moved to the top of the list of industries targeted for attacks in 2012. Symantec said this was because cybercriminals were attacking the supply chain as a result of finding contractors and subcontractors susceptible to attacks and often in possession of valuable intellectual property.

Often by going after manufacturing companies in the supply chain, attackers gain access to sensitive information of a larger company, the company pointed out.

On the consumer front mobiles seemed to be the worst hit, with malware increasing by 58 percent. Around a third of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Apple’s iOS had the most documented vulnerabilities, it only had one threat discovered during the same period and Android, by contrast, had fewer vulnerabilities but more threats than any other mobile operating system.

Webwise 61 percent of malicious websites were found to be legitimate websites that had been compromised and infected with malicious code. Business, technology and shopping websites were among the top five types of websites hosting infections.

A growing source of infections on websites was malvertisements – when criminals buy advertising space on legitimate websites and use it to hide their attack code.

Gartner consults crystal ball about cloud

crystalAround 10 percent of IT security enterprise products will be delivered through the cloud by 2015, Gartner has said.

Gazing into its crystal ball, the analyst house has also said that these services will also drive changes in the market landscape, particularly around a number of key security technology areas, such as secure email and secure Web gateways, remote vulnerability assessment, and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

It said as a result it expected the cloud-based security services market to reach $4.2 billion by 2016.

Eric Ahlm, research director at Gartner said demand remained high from buyers looking to cloud-based security services to address a lack of staff or skills, reduce costs, or comply with security regulations quickly.

He said the shift in buying behaviour from the more traditional on-premises equipment toward cloud-based delivery models offered “good opportunities for technology and service providers with cloud delivery capabilities.”

He warned that those without such capabilities needed to act quickly to adapt to this “competitive threat.”

Gartner referenced a security survey from January which  it said showed high demand from security buyers for cloud-based security service offerings. Security buyers from the US and Europe, representing a cross section of industries and company sizes, stated that they planned to increase the consumption of several common cloud services during the next 12 months.

The highest-consumed cloud-based security service is email security services, with 74 percent of respondents rating this as the top service.

Furthermore, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they were considering deploying tokenisation as a cloud service, while another area cited for growth was security information and event management (SIEM) as a service.

Gartner is now advising value-added resellers (VARs) to supplement product implementations with cloud-based alternatives that offer large customers reduced operational cost and thereby increase the likelihood of customer retention in this market segment. VARs that fail to offer cloud-based alternatives might experience a decline in implementation revenue from customers seeking cloud-based solutions in certain market segments.
Around 10 percent of IT security enterprise products will be delivered through the cloud by 2015, Gartner has said.

Rubbing its crystal ball the analyst house has also said that these services will also drive changes in the market landscape, particularly around a number of key security technology areas, such as secure email and secure Web gateways, remote vulnerability assessment, and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

It said as a result it expected the cloud-based security services market to reach $4.2 billion by 2016.

Eric Ahlm, research director at Gartner said demand remained high from buyers looking to cloud-based security services to address a lack of staff or skills, reduce costs, or comply with security regulations quickly.

He said the shift in buying behaviour from the more traditional on-premises equipment toward cloud-based delivery models offered “good opportunities for technology and service providers with cloud delivery capabilities.”

He warned that those without such capabilities needed to act quickly to adapt to this “competitive threat.”

Gartner referenced a security survey from January which  it said showed high demand from security buyers for cloud-based security service offerings. Security buyers from the US and Europe, representing a cross section of industries and company sizes, stated that they planned to increase the consumption of several common cloud services during the next 12 months.

The highest-consumed cloud-based security service is email security services, with 74 percent of respondents rating this as the top service.

Furthermore, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they were considering deploying tokenisation as a cloud service, while another area cited for growth was security information and event management (SIEM) as a service.

Gartner is now advising value-added resellers (VARs) to supplement product implementations with cloud-based alternatives that offer large customers reduced operational cost and thereby increase the likelihood of customer retention in this market segment. VARs that fail to offer cloud-based alternatives might experience a decline in implementation revenue from customers seeking cloud-based solutions in certain market segments.