Canadians entrepreneurs anxious about tech problems, solutions

While Canadian businesses are concerned about network security threats, they aren’t very keen on one of the possible ways to protect their networks, two Angus Reid polls show.

An Angus Reid poll of 504 Canadians small business owners sponsored by Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. shows that 54 per cent expressed concern about protecting IT networks. But in another poll of 1,005 small business owners sponsored by HP Canada, only four per cent of businesses not already using cloud computing would consider using it in the future.

The definition of “small business” was a company with 50 employees or less for both polls. Results were released Nov. 3.

Related story:Three open-source options for network security

The polls show that small businesses see technology as a benefit, but are concerned about the complexity of modern IT infrastructure and the security requirements it imposes. More small shops are contracting out their IT departments, with nearly half using a cloud computing service, according to the HP poll.

“There’s lots of opportunity for other companies to leverage the cloud,” says Leyland Brown, a vice-president of business segments at HP. “A decade ago you never would have considered outsourcing to someone outside your local region… now you’d consider outsourcing to anywhere in the world.”

Products such as end-point security software and routers with built-in firewalls can help protect a network. But cloud services, or managed security services are another option for small businesses to get protected. Yet 96 per cent of small companies not currently using cloud services say they won’t be interested any time soon.

Jeff Lorenz, the vice president of sales and marketing at Primus Business Services, doesn’t get that.”Small businesses believe they are taking advantage of technology to the extent they can benefit from it today,” he says. “They’ve probably made some changes in their infrastructure that have brought them closer to being current… and moved on to focus on other parts of the business.”

Primus provides hosted services that could be described as “cloud-based” but opts not to use that terminology to avoid confusion, he adds. Cloud services have gained some awareness over the past couple of years, but there still may be some confusion about what exactly it means.

The cloud has been an oft-used buzz word to describe myriad services in the IT industry over the past couple of years. It is defined by IT consultant firm IDC Corp. as “services and solutions delivered and consumed in real-time over the Internet.”

Cloud services are shared amongst many customers, self-serviced, have usage-based pricing, and are often published through a Web-based interface.

The four per cent of small businesses that are willing to invest in cloud services will become leaders, Lorenz predicts, and reap benefits that will make others follow in their footsteps.

“We as Canadians want to see others have success with these things and that gives us comfort to come out and take advantage,” he says. “Their world will change and the technology world will change.”

Canadian businesses also have an aversion to avoiding technology that has proven to work well for others, the Primus poll shows.

Just 22 per cent of businesses say they’re using digital convergence technologies such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). But 76 per cent of those who are using them report cost savings as a result.

Manitoba suffers the most tech anxiety

Manitobans are the most likely Canadians to report a high level of concern about technology.

A full 81 per cent reported unease, compared to 48 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses, the lowest rate.

Manitoba business owners have the least amount of confidence that their company has the technology needed to maximize profits, at seven per cent.

Also, only one-third of owners believe digital convergence has had a positive impact on their business – the lowest rate in the country.

Brian Jackson is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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