Tech-savvy workers create data chaos in SMEs

15 Oct 2007

The combination of improved IT skills among office workers and increasingly user-friendly technology is leading to fragmented databases and decreased productivity in SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) according to research released today by UK database experts FileMaker.

The survey polled over 100 people involved in IT management and found that end users in SMEs are beginning to ignore IT policy in favour of what works for them, bypassing data compliance that is essential to keeping an organisations information sorted in one central place.

Essentially, many users are keeping information on their own laptop hard droves or email accounts, which is not being processed or accounted for in the company, leading to ‘micro-silos’ of isolated data.

Tony Speakman, regional manager, northern Europe, FileMaker said: “This research highlights that critical information management is being seriously harmed not just by simple bad habits, but also by users actively creating, and in some cases unintentionally distorting, information to suit their own needs.”

While 64pc of those surveyed felt that their business has a ‘micro-silo mentality’, nearly half, at 46pc, felt that it was because of the company was lacking in strong IT management.

This isolation of data which often remains trapped with single users seems to be partially the result of companies creating or customising essential business applications which the majority of respondents felt was easier to do in the past three years.

This IT ‘free-styling’ may be down to the fact that a third of IT managers have no formal qualifications, having either taught themselves or picked up skill on the job.

Furthermore, 40pc of IT managers are also acting in the role of director or operations manager.

Interestingly it was found that those with the poorest IT skills were those in the most junior and most senior roles in the company.

Billy Hamilton-Stent, the director of the researchers Loudhouse, said: “SMEs are typically viewed as more flexible and adaptable workplaces where independent thought and creativity are often encouraged.

“However when this approach is applied to central IT systems it is a potential cause for concern.”

By Marie Boran