Skills are major obstacle to IT adoption
New research shows that a lack of necessary skills is behind the slow adoption of information technology by accountants and their clients, reports Antonia Germanos.
Accountants have identified a lack of skills as a key barrier to the adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) by small and medium-sized businesses, according to new research by Accountancy Age and UK Online for Business, the DTI-led partnership between government and industry that promotes the benefits of ICT to businesses. The research questioned over 530 accountants working with smaller and medium-sized businesses.
According to the new research, 75% of practitioners believe a lack of internal skills to ensure technologies are effectively implemented is the key barrier to their clients' ICT usage. In comparison, 41% of business accountants felt a skills gap was responsible for not maximising ICT development within their organisations. Aan overall lack of understanding of technologies, and how it can benefit businesses, was cited by 77% of practice accountants as a further obstacle to ICT uptake.
Cost was another major obstacle according to both groups of accountants, particularly the perceived high cost of initial ICT investment. Fifty per cent of business accountants cited this as the main reason their businesses were unwilling to develop their ICT strategies further. Similarly, 48% of practitioners thought their clients were put off by IT because of the costs involved.
Return on Investment
Both accountants in business and in practice consider the difficulty in justifying return on investment weakens the case for technology investment. This is reinforced by the fact that few small and medium sized businesses currently measure the return on investment; 75% of practitioners were not confident their clients would be able to measure their current IT spend. Also, 44% of practitioners cited concern over integration with current systems as an influence on the decision making process in further IT investment.
UK Online for Business has developed an e-Business Information pack designed for accountants which includes Accountants and e-Business, a comprehensive guide to the key issues around ebusiness and the business benefits. The pack is supported by ACCA, and is available from the UK Online for Business information line on 0845 715 2000.
Antonia Germanos - GCI London