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SMEs shortchanged by digital divide

SMEs feel they're being disadvantaged when it comes to buying technology, and it's hitting them in the pocket.

SMEs feel they're being overlooked when it comes to finding technology solutions for their businesses, and that they are being penalised price-wise.

A study of more than 1,000 IT decision-makers in Australia and New Zealand by technology firm EMC found respondents believed they were often disregarded in favour of larger enterprise businesses when it came to better pricing, understanding and product design.

EMC Australia/New Zealand marketing manager Mark Oakey said the findings were concerning.

“The findings are particularly worrying as SMBs face similar technology challenges to large businesses but have fewer resources to cope,” Oakey said.

“Technology is supposed to enable smaller organisations to be competitive with larger businesses; however this won’t be the case if the solutions don’t meet their needs or simply cost too much. We need to address this before it creates a digital divide between large, mid-sized and small businesses.

More than 60 percent of small businesses said it was difficult to find suitable solutions for their needs.

Overall better pricing was what SMEs most wanted from technology companies, with 34 percent of respondents citing it as their number one need. Other important considerations included improved technology suitability (31 percent), better understanding of the small business market (30 percent) and better responsiveness to their queries (5 percent).

Of the New Zealand respondents:

- More than 72 percent believed enterprises received more favourable pricing arrangements when buying technology solutions
- Only 10 percent believed technology solutions were developed with SME needs in mind
- 65 percent were not satisfied with the customer service offered to SMEs
- More than 30 per cent felt IT vendors were listening to feedback from SMEs