Digital divestment still too common among SMEs

Monday, 09 October, 2017

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Most small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners are at risk when it comes to their digital security, according to a new survey.

RSM Australia’s thinkBIG 2017 findings suggest that many SME owners still do not recognise the importance of regularly reviewing their information security policies.

In fact, almost half of the respondents said they do not review their information security policies annually. This is despite a landscape of increasing cyber threats and attacks, and reports from the Australian Cyber Security Centre showing that 90% of organisations faced some form of attempted or successful cybersecurity compromise in the 2015–16 financial year.

“The low proportion of SME owners reviewing information security policies regularly is concerning, as it suggests that SMEs have not engaged in what is a serious matter that could lead to significant loss,” said Peter Saccasan, national head of business advisory, RSM Australia.

This year’s thinkBIG survey found that nearly half (44%) of SME owners were not confident in their organisation’s ability to withstand a cyber attack, with 42% of respondents planning to increase their cybersecurity resources in the next 12 months.

“Digital security should be a higher priority for all Australian businesses regardless of size. Many savvy hackers are choosing to infiltrate smaller businesses that partner with large enterprises as a way to target those otherwise well-secured but attractive targets,” said Saccasan.

Nearly three-quarters of SME owners have invested in digital tools and technology over the past 12 months, pointing to a growing acceptance that technology has become an essential and indispensable part of doing business.

The most common area for investment in digital tools and technology was the company website, as well as social media platforms. More than one-third of respondents invested in cloud-based accounting and related systems, with more than a quarter investing in marketing technology such as customer relationship management software, marketing automation and campaign email systems.

“Just 9% of respondents invested in e-commerce solutions, despite the ongoing growth of online shopping,” said Saccasan.

“This low level may be due to organisations already having a working e-commerce system in place, or because they don’t offer online shopping capabilities. In the latter case, this could result in the business missing out on revenue opportunities, and it could be worth investigating e-commerce options. With Amazon coming to Australia, the focus on the online is about to heightened.”

thinkBIG has measured the pulse of the Australian SME sector since 2005. It benchmarks business growth, business planning, exit planning, superannuation and the impact and uptake of technology. 216 business owners participated in the 2017 study, providing insights into how Australian SMEs feel about their business and what keeps them awake at night.

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