Report: Small businesses lose $24 billion a year due to non-IT workers

If you work in a small business that has a network of PCs, the chance are good that it does not have a dedicated IT worker trying to fix problems with the PCs and the network itself. So what does that business do when something does go wrong? Microsoft claims that, all too often, the problems are dealt with by what the company calls 'involuntary IT managers'. These IITMs might have some knowledge of PC hardware, software and networking but they are not formally trained IT employees.

Microsoft commissioned AMI-Partners to run a study of 538 IITMs working in small businesses located in Australia, Brazil, Chile, India and the United States. The results of this survey claim that 3.8 million small businesses have their internal computer networks services run by IITMs. However, the same survey claims that those businesses lose a total of $24 billion a year due to these workers managing their IT networks.

Why? Most of these employees have to do other jobs besides managing the computer network of their organisation and Microsoft says that these workers lose six hours per week managing these IT issues. 30 percent of IITMs feel that having to fix these PC and network problems is a "nuisance" and 26 percent claim they don't even feel qualified to manage a network of PCs.

Andy Bose, the founder, chairman and CEO at AMI-Partners, states, “As our research shows, relying on an Involuntary IT Manager can have an adverse impact on small businesses’ productivity, which can negatively affect revenue and translates into a very high opportunity cost." What's the solution? Microsoft uses the results of the study to promote the use of its cloud-based solutions such as Office 365, Windows Azure and more to take some of the burden off their own workers.

Source: Microsoft
PC workers image via Shutterstock

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Downtime Revisited
So, while IT professionals confront downtime and try to get on top of it, the business organization suffers the pain of downtime. About a year ago, we looked at the many ways that IT downtime can hurt businesses (Cost and Scope of Unplanned Outages), from lost revenue to reputation damage to lost productivity. Now we want to revisit the issue, and see how organizations of any size should address and assess threats to their IT operations, including systems, applications, and data, and look at solid numbers around the potential costs that downtime and outages pose to the business.

http://www.evolven.com/blog/do...nding-their-true-costs.html

Office 365 Will not uninstall bad windows updates, Help you with your ISP issues, Printer Issues or Setting up 5-50 smart phones.

But if you can afford 24/48 hours of downtime sitting on hold with Office 365 support following instructions from a guy who “can't login to your account” and do it even with your permission or that can cripple your small business with a billing dispute or worse bill you then disable your account by all means use Office 365.

When you work in a small business and approach the boss and say I need ______ he will either say no that's not in the budget or it will take a week. If you were hired to do something else your taking away time from servicing customers and finishing projects if your response time slows your customers may look for a company that gets things done faster. Even worse is if you have no formal IT training and you don't have the tools/training (No Budget) to resolve the problem quickly you may harm the productivity of several workers and impact people's perception of the company.

And then there's the other side - IT staff who get other tasks dumped on them. I've been stuck with graphic design, accounting and other stuff. The boss even tried to drop architect duties on me. Because some people think if you know computers, that means you can do literally anything that can be done with a computer. Computer geek + Quickbooks =/= accountant!

DConnell said,
And then there's the other side - IT staff who get other tasks dumped on them. I've been stuck with graphic design, accounting and other stuff. The boss even tried to drop architect duties on me. Because some people think if you know computers, that means you can do literally anything that can be done with a computer. Computer geek + Quickbooks =/= accountant!

Soooooo true! CPAs wanting me to do accounting/bookkeeping for them is always a pain. Lol

I took a job a couple of years ago and on my first day they said "you'll also manage our network, the computers, printers, etc". It was my first and last day. I don't mind some indirect troubleshooting but don't put that hat on me. Hire a dedicated IT staff damnit. I'm a graphic designer, btw.

Also, hire someone to fix that dudes hair. Wow!

As a former IITM, I can say that the cloud is a band-aid not a solution. For one thing it's reliant on having a constant, stable internet connection. If it goes, for whatever reason, then your business has evaporated for the day.

Assuming these are Windows-based networks, the real solution is finding out why they're so unreliable in the first place and fixing it at the OS level.

protocol7 said,
As a former IITM, I can say that the cloud is a band-aid not a solution. For one thing it's reliant on having a constant, stable internet connection. If it goes, for whatever reason, then your business has evaporated for the day.

Assuming these are Windows-based networks, the real solution is finding out why they're so unreliable in the first place and fixing it at the OS level.

The reason for most instability is cost. SMBs don't want to spend money on the correct hardware/software they need and things stagnate.

I disagree. Cloud solutions are great for any company who doesn't have in-house IT. Yes, you are dependent on your internet connection, but for many, that is already the case. If losing internet access for a day happens more than almost never then you have a crappy ISP and/or network.

Hardening your internet connection really isn't that difficult. Non-IT people may not be qualified, but if it is your lifeline, then pay someone to come out and setup the right way. Get a nice switch, don't go cheap there. Get a backup connection from a different ISP, cheap DSL or cable modem is probably okay, its just a backup. Either run both connections into the same router, or if you want router redundancy, then use a protocol like VRRP. Pretty simple really and you are probably only paying an extra $100 a month for that backup.

At the end of the day what is harder? Making sure your internet connection is solid, or buying and configuring redundant systems for everything else? Keep in mind that when you pay for a hosted solution, you are not just leasing server space, you are also leasing the data-center and all the expertise that went into setting it up.

episode said,
The reason for most instability is cost. SMBs don't want to spend money on the correct hardware/software they need and things stagnate.

What more likely happens is that they want to spend less upfront whilst ignoring it costs them more in the long run just as these same companies would sooner pay a repairer to come in and fix up equipment than having a flat rate contract with a company. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Agree with that 100%. Happens to me on a daily basis. And thats ok - I get more work from 'repairs' then when I do a replacement.

I suppose I am in the IITM class at work. There are 3 of us that sort all IT problems (that we can). If it is beyond us, then we call someone in.

Most of the people at work know how to "use a computer" i.e. facebook, browsing, and stuff we show them. But even after useing a computer for years, some people still know nothing and ask some stupid questions.

techbeck said,
I've known some IITMs that are smarter that ITMs.

Book knowledge and real world experience makes a big difference.

A good IT Manager has both. Personally though I'd go with the one with higher book knowledge. IT works use tools to manage everything and these tools make their jobs super easy. However bc these tools make it so easy it is also easy to enable/disable a setting that could either screw everything up or leave your network vulnerable to attack. So someone with a good knowledge of what those settings actually mean/do is better than someone who knows (or thinks he knows) which settings to enable.

- I'm gonna put you in IT! Because you said on your CV you had a lot of experience with computers.
- I did say that on my CV, yes. I have lots of experience with the whole cómputer thing. E-mails... sending e-mails, receiving e-mails, deleting e-mails. The Web. Using mouse, mices, using mice, clicking, double clicking [..]

Phouchg said,
- I'm gonna put you in IT! Because you said on your CV you had a lot of experience with computers.
- I did say that on my CV, yes. I have lots of experience with the whole cómputer thing. E-mails... sending e-mails, receiving e-mails, deleting e-mails. The Web. Using mouse, mices, using mice, clicking, double clicking [..]
This sounds about right.