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Why UK SMEs must protect their digital future

A recent survey carried out by the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) reports that technology and digital challenges are the biggest worries for business owners in 2019.

Business transformation, digital strategy and the need to understand rapidly advancing technologies are all named in the research as priorities. The survey asked 250 decision-makers across the private and public sector, taking in opinions from UK SMEs and bigger businesses.

Improving efficiency is the top challenge for UK SMEs

Across both the private and public sector, SMEs named ‘efficiency’ as the biggest business challenge. This is followed by Brexit concerns, potential disruption from the incorporation of automation and AI and effectively deploying digital transformation. More than half of business owners in financial services cite Brexit as the biggest business challenge, while public sector business owners are more concerned about recruitment.

While Brexit is a big concern to every sector in the UK, this survey shows that there are many challenges facing UK SMEs. In order to effectively manage digital transformation, it’s vital that businesses identify cyber-security priorities and take effective steps to protect data insight and intelligence.

Working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Paul Hingley is the Data Services Business Manager at Siemens UK. He says: “We are now in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is based on the use of cyber-physical systems where the growth of connected devices through the Internet of Things will see digital transformation increase performance. Applications and digital services will also help build new digital business models that will differentiate organisations.”

At the centre of the digital transformation challenges for every sector is data. It’s estimated that the total amount of data generated across the world will exceed 45 Zettabytes (one zettabyte is equal to 1 trillion gigabytes) by 2020. That’s an increase from 7.4 Zettabytes just three years ago. According to an IDC report commissioned by Seagate, “the global datasphere will grow to 175 zettabytes by 2025.”

Behind this phenomenal growth of data is the increasing connectivity of machines, devices, sensors and meters.

The Internet of Things – challenges and benefits

As digital platforms increasingly utilise automation and AI, there will be more seamless connection of all kinds of technology. This includes augmented and virtual reality, simulation, cloud storage technology and digital security protection. All of this will have an impact on businesses over the next ten years.

Mr Hingley says: “Internet of Things-driven benefits to production are clear as it allows data to become actionable and delivers value to the business. In order to benefit, businesses have to embrace the technological forces that are transforming both society and  industry, that will see the most successful evolve into data-driven digital enterprises.”

As UK SMEs, corporations and multinationals continue to meet the challenges of digitisation, the issue of security is more critical than ever. A connected world means more vulnerability and that presents challenges of its own. Malware is on the rise, phishing big data is always a danger and there is always the danger of cyber-attacks that can severely damage businesses.

Legislative changes to cyber security

Last year, an EU Directive regarding Security of Networks & Information Systems became UK law. It’s designed to increase resilience of information and network systems and improve overall security.

The directive says that businesses that operate within specific sectors, such as healthcare and transport should be identified as “operators of essential services” (OES). They must take appropriate security measures to manage network and information system risks.

James Turner, Managing Director of Turner Little Limited says: “The increasingly advanced digitisation across every business sector will be an improvement to our daily lives. However, the risks of malicious cyber-attacks are also increasing dramatically. It’s just as important that UK SMEs understand the risks and take appropriate measures to ensure the security of their data and business.

“When setting up a small businesses, cyber-security can often take a backseat in favour of other priorities, which might include maintaining cashflow, recruiting staff or winning new business. However, it’s vital that SMEs thoroughly understand the dangers that can affect their businesses too, regardless of the industry sector in which they operate.

“Stepping into an increasingly digital future is challenging for everyone, particularly at a time of such political and economic uncertainty. Committing to appropriate security standards will future-proof your business and ensure that you benefit from digital transformation.”

About Turner Little
Founded in 1998 in Yorkshire, UK, Turner Little is a specialist UK and offshore company formation, banking and corporate services provider. Our services include company formation, UK and offshore banking, asset protection, credit correction/repair, trademarking and trusts. Other services include Internet services, mail forwarding, wills and probate. Turner Little’s vision is to offer the best possible service, together with market leading products.

Turner Little and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Material on this page has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.