• The owner or manager is the technical expert on information technology (IT) in a plurality (44%) of small businesses. This is particularly true in the smallest. An employee assumes that mantle in 32 percent of cases with an outside IT services provider in 17 percent of them.
• Twenty-one (21) percent of small employers feel very comfortable with IT issues, problems, opportunities, etc., and another 45 feel comfortable with them. But 34 percent do not. Comfort is strongly associated with personal age of the small employer, the younger being the more comfortable.
• In about two-thirds of small businesses, the owner or an employee of the firm is the person most likely to train new employees or existing employees in the firm’s software and/or upgrades.
• Seventeen (17) percent of small businesses have at least one employee who spends at least half-time working on IT-related matters, such as installing and/or fixing hardware and software, handling network problems, etc. Of that number, 63 percent have only one such person and 14 percent two such people.
• IT service providers are important to a large share of the small-business population. One-third (32%) have a contract with a services provider or a consulting firm to handle their IT maintenance. However, another 30 percent have an on-going non-contractual relationship with an IT provider or consulting firm to provide such services.
• When IT problems arise, they are somewhat more likely to be software problems than hardware problems, though 48 percent of small employers think IT problems occur equally among hardware and software. Similarly, maintenance and operation are somewhat more problematic than installation and/or employee training on new purchases, even though 46 percent assess them alike.
• The most common very serious or serious problems small employers encounter with their IT equipment are: filtering spam from e-mail (44%), hardware crashes (40%), back-up and/or data loss (37%), getting timely or prompt service when a problem arises (36%), and updating computer security (35%).
• Forty-six (46) percent of small employers do not think that their businesses would achieve any long-term benefit by increasing their use of IT. However, 7 percent think they would benefit very greatly by increasing its use and another18 percent would benefit greatly from it.
• The most important constraint on those who think they would benefit from increased use of IT is budget or financial considerations. Twelve (12) percent who see a benefit or 5 percent of all small businesses cite a financial issue. Almost the same proportion cite the lack of time to explore new IT products and their use as a severe constraint.