Survey Shows Fear Rules in IT, Budget Reviews

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A recent survey by Fasthosts Internet uncovered surprising behaviors by individuals conducting IT-related business decisions. It found that even as these individuals are becoming more hands-on in their IT management and are increasingly pressured to cut costs, they still let fear of service interruption lead them to delay replacing equipment and may even end up paying more than they should to stay covered.

The survey was done in partnership with Wired magazine, which conducted an online poll of its adult readers earlier this year, asking about their current use of server solutions.

One-third of respondents said they still hesitate to consider a replacement server even if it is necessary. Fifty-three percent of business owners reported being more involved in decisions relating to their IT needs because of the current state of the economy. Additionally, 29 percent of respondents have reviewed their budget for servers in the past six months, and 54 percent have analyzed their finances during the last year.

But despite all this oversight, respondents reported much trepidation about making changes to their IT infrastructure. Thirty-three percent of the survey's participants said they would be fearful of switching to a new provider because of a potential disruption to their service. Tellingly, 22 percent have not updated or changed their server solution in at least three years despite the fact that 25 percent said they want to lower their external server costs.

Even feeling ripped-off was not sufficient impetus to drive change here. Forty-five percent of survey participants said they felt overcharged for costs, including monitoring fees, server management, additional memory and IP addresses, backup space, consultancy fees and server traffic. Regardless, one-third of the respondents pay more than just their provider to maintain their server.

Stephen Holford, chief marketing officer of Fasthosts, commented on what will be the long-term effect of companies' reluctance to replace their servers due to budget concerns.
"IT doesn't always evolve at a rate that is parallel to a company's financial growth, causing the company to forego upgrading their servers until it is a necessity," he said. "I think once the economy starts to bounce back, people will be more open to making changes and getting upgrades."

Holford identified a number of factors that could lead respondents who felt overcharged by their server provider to throw good money after bad, paying companies other than just their provider to upkeep their server.

"It could be the structure of the company," he said. "Small- or medium-sized businesses might not be big enough to keep IT management in-house, so they are forced to look elsewhere. Depending on who's in charge of monitoring the company's IT solutions, he or she may not be aware their provider also offers maintenance services. This might be the case if manpower is limited and IT is not the person's main priority. So, as long as they are up and running, and there's a go-to person for tech issues, it's not given a second look."

It's surprising that the current economic crisis has not been a sufficient catalyst to drive companies to update their external server providers to lower their costs. But according to Holford, the economy might be just the reason for this stagnancy in server replacement and maintenance.

"People are more aware of their financial situation these days, whether it be with personal expenses or corporate spending," he said. "The current economy has heightened this and pushed people to stick with what is familiar to them. So any changes that fall out of line with what they are used to might have been pushed aside until things turn around. I think that, given the economic situation, some might fear change, even if it might be profitable for them in the end."

Business owners asserting more oversight of IT spending, as the survey reports is occurring, has the potential to pull IT application in line with business needs.

"What will happen here is that companies will streamline their IT in terms of the technology required to function efficiently, but also with respect to their provider," Holford said. "When you step back and think about it, this makes sense. Once business owners understand what running their IT network entails and how a smooth system can benefit their business, they will aim to use the solutions that best suit their needs. But this also could mean they want to streamline where their technology comes from as well."

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