UK SMEs now invest £2.9bn annually on cyber security experts to help them stay ahead of the latest threats. This equates to an average figure of £1,600 per business, with many larger SMEs spending ten times more. This is an increase of 43% over the last five years, and is expected to increase again over the next year by 32%. These are some of the findings of new research carried out by Barclaycard.
In contrast, demand for more ‘traditional’ experts is falling. One in three (33%) SMEs have decreased investment in procurement, for example, as they believe it is becoming less relevant for their business. And the 15% of SMEs who cut spending on legal and compliance experts did so to make way for spending on new skills to futureproof their business.
With small businesses facing challenges from all directions – including an uncertain economic landscape and changing consumer preferences – more than a third (34%) are worried about their ability to manage these multiple demands and priorities as their business grows.
Cyber security is as much of an issue for SMEs as it is for larger organizations according to the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report which showed that organizations of all sizes share the same concerns. A global survey identified the top three concerns for both SMEs and large organizations as cyber attack, data breach and unplanned network outage.
Such is the concern among SMEs about cyber security, for instance, that it is a greater worry for many than the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Four in ten (44%) small businesses fear being victim of a cyber crime or data breach, compared to three in ten (34%) who are anxious about the impact of Brexit on their business.
Sharon Manikon, Managing Director of Customer Solutions at Barclaycard, said: “UK SMEs face immense pressure to keep up with competitors of all sizes. This is all the more challenging in an uncertain political and economic landscape with shifting consumer preferences and new technology that continues to develop at pace.
“As a result, there are more demands on their budget than ever, and these are forcing SMEs to spend smarter. One way to make budgets work harder is to engage suppliers who don't just provide competitively priced products and services – but also offer access to the specialists who provide consultancy to help businesses continue to thrive. This will help SMEs derive the most value from their experts, helping to drive their business forward."