Philippine SMBs look in-house for IT support

New study reveals companies try to cut cost by assigning IT functions to non-techie staff--a move with potentially disastrous consequences.

One-third of small businesses in the Philippines are not buying tech support services from vendors, choosing to shift the responsibility to internal staff instead, a new study shows.

According to a report by AMI-Partners, more than 35 percent of small businesses and over one-tenth of midsize ones in the country do not subscribe to support services, on top of hardware and software procurement. The analyst firm defines small businesses as those with one to 99 employees, while midsize organizations typically employ 100 to 999 workers.

"To save cost, many SMBs add on IT responsibilities to their current employees. Their IT knowledge--or the lack thereof--only serves to provide piecemeal or short-term solutions to the company's IT needs," said Diana Ng, a Singapore-based research analyst at AMI-Partners, in a statement.

"A robust IT infrastructure has to be integrated as a whole from hardware to software to storage to security, such that business continuity will not be affected in the event of virus attacks or disasters," she added.

The Philippines has more than 1 million small businesses, of which 122,000 have employees doubling up as IT support staff, according to AMI-Partners.

Ng cautioned that IT infrastructure developed by employees without professional IT training are prone to security and stability loopholes.

"When faced with a disaster, extra time and cost are needed first to understand the structure before applying the right treatment. Consequently, this leads to a loss of productivity and business dollars," she said.

Small Filipino firms are also shoring up IT spending, with more than 35 percent of those surveyed intending to buy additional hardware, upgrade systems and networks, and beef up enterprise security, AMI-Partners said.

An earlier study on Singapore companies also revealed that small businesses lack in-house tech expertise. The survey found that only 12 percent of small businesses in the island-state have full-time employees dedicated to technology management. Over a fourth of small businesses have no dedicated IT staff.

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