Network Security, Hardware Reliability Pose Challenges for Businesses: HP Report

Computer-processing speed and reliability top IT managers' lists for the most needed computer improvements.

Budget constraints continue to weigh heavily on IT decision making at small and midsize companies, a new study shows. A Hewlett-Packard survey of more than 500 IT managers at U.S. SMBs shows that 93 percent of companies have placed cost concerns over the best IT solutions, leading 89 percent of those companies to experience IT-related problems.

The HP SMB IT Survey, conducted by Wakefield Research, uncovered that the top three IT problems reported by cost-conscious companies are low-performing hardware (46 percent), out-of-date hardware (37 percent) and unreliable hardware (23 percent), leading to suboptimal computing efficiency and an overall loss of productivity.

The survey also revealed that 54 percent of small businesses cite summer as the peak season for working remotely. With 58 percent of IT managers stating that they have not invested in network security this year, the report suggested companies will find they are adding pressure and potentially greater security risks to their already stressed IT networks.

The study also showed that computer-processing speed (35 percent) and reliability (19 percent) top IT managers' lists for the most needed computer improvements. These practical considerations weigh more heavily on managers' minds than energy efficiency (9 percent).

When given the chance to tell their CEOs how to solve common concerns, IT managers recommend upgrading to newer and better quality components (29 percent), investing more money into IT systems (21 percent), and spending more time planning and researching the best solutions for their company's needs (13 percent).

Forty-one percent of IT managers think that planning their company's IT strategy is the best use of their time, compared with 11 percent of managers who believe their time is best spent on hardware support. Additionally, one-fifth of IT managers complained that their biggest computer problem is a lack of vendor assistance when problems occur.

"The survey findings confirm that budget-constrained small businesses are playing tug of war when it comes to balancing smart IT purchasing decisions and their budgets," says Stephen DiFranco, senior vice president and general manager, of HP's personal systems group, Americas. "HP has a portfolio of reliable, high-performing and secure Elite Series PCs that are business-tough and tested to the extremes to ensure small businesses get a great return on investment and thrive in the market."

Study Methodology

The HP SMB IT Survey was conducted between May 31 and June 6, 2011, using an email invitation and an online survey. The company noted the results of any sample are subject to sampling variation and the magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.