IT SECURITY SERVICES COULD BE A TOUGH SMB SELL: Despite a track record of vulnerability to information technology security breakdowns, fast-growth small and midsized businesses are not increasing their IT security spending, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.Despite a track record of vulnerability to information technology security breakdowns, fast-growth small and midsized businesses are not increasing their IT security spending, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Big Four firm’s survey of chief executives at 402 companies with annual revenues ranging from $5 million to $150 million found that 46 percent of the companies suffered compromises in their IT security over the past year, but only 15 percent plan IT budget increases, and, among those, “relatively few” identified security as a priority. The survey was part of PwC’s most recent Trendsetter Barometer report on fast-growth companies.

“As technology becomes increasingly advanced, security becomes all the more critical, but it would appear that many of the surveyed CEOs have only scratched the surface,” said Mark Lobel, PwC’s senior manager of security and privacy services.

Computer viruses or worms hit 90 percent of the affected companies. Other breaches, according to PwC, included unauthorized entry to systems, denial of service caused by outside forces, manipulated programs and intrusion on mobile/wireless systems. While hackers were the culprits identified most often, employees were suspected in 7 percent of the cases, former employees in 3 percent, and competitors in 2 percent.

AMR SEES SPENDING SURGE BY LARGE COMPANIES: An increase in information technology spending by businesses with at least 1,000 employees may be right around the corner, according to technology industry analysts AMR Research.

IT budgets in the third quarter of 2003 grew by 4.3 percent, compared to 3.4 percent growth in the same period in 2002. “The momentum is continuing to build in IT spending for 2004 and beyond,” Boston-based AMR said, in summarizing interviews with executives at 200 manufacturing and service companies with 1,000-plus employees.

“Customer service will be the central focus of 2004, with 38 percent of respondents claiming that customer-driven issues like loyalty and retention will have the greatest influence on IT investments,” AMR said. It expects companies to give top spending priority to networking/telecommunications systems that provide connectivity to customers.

ACCPAC ENHANCES VERTICAL FOCUS OF SIMPLY ACCOUNTING: Accpac International has improved the vertical industry support capabilities of Simply Accounting and has made several other enhancements in its latest release of that low-end accounting software.

Simply Accounting, which already had more than 100 charts of account templates, now also offers ease-of-use advice tailored for users in 10 verticals, including nonprofits, professional services, construction and retail. The United States’ two leading low-end accounting software products, Peachtree and QuickBooks, have also been the subjects of vertical capability enhancements over the past year. Accpac said that Simply Accounting is the leading low-end software in Canada.

Other enhancements include a new user interface designed to make it easier for users, unlimited price lists and new small business services, such as a direct deposit payroll service and Dun & Bradstreet credit check capabilities.

IDC BULLISH ON TECHNOLOGY OUTSOURCING: Internet-based outsourcing of information technology will continue to grow, with “some of the better opportunities” to be in government, financial markets, services and discrete manufacturing industries, according to International Data Corp.

IDC’s most recent research finds that the companies most likely to outsource include ones with low margins, poor access to IT talent, or a need to access the latest technology, while the key sticking points in service agreements include security and service accessibility.

“About 80 percent of an outsourcing offering is applicable to all vertical markets and about 20 percent needs to be modified for the specific needs of an industry,” said David Tapper, program manager for IT outsourcing and utility services research at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

IDC’s report, “U.S. IT Outsourcing Forecast and Analysis by Vertical Market, 2003-2007,” is available online at www.idc.com.

— Compiled by John M. Covaleski

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