Fears over cybercrime are causing businesses to prioritise hiring digital experts over traditional areas.
Cybercrime is a greater budget and skills concern than Brexit for Britain’s SMEs.
According to research from Barclaycard, SME’s are investing £2.9bn annually on cybersecurity at an average of nearly £1,600.
This figure has increased over the past five years with SME’s spending 43% more on cybersecurity professionals. By way of contrast, spending on payment innovation has risen by 31%, and cybersecurity spending is due to increase over the next year by another 32%, compared to 23% for payment innovation.
Spending on skills in other more ‘traditional’ areas has fallen, with 33% of SMEs decreasing investment in procurement due to this becoming less relevant for their business.
One of the key driving forces behind the increased spend on cybersecurity for SME’s is a fear of being a victim of a cybercrime or data breach. The research found that 44% of SMEs fear being the victim of a cybercrime or data breach, whilst only 34% are anxious about the impact of Brexit on their business.
To help overcome these issues, the Barclaycard research suggests hiring experts that are capable of providing support across multiple areas, in particular technology.
Sharon Manikon, Managing Director of Customer Solutions at Barclaycard, said: “UK SMEs face immense pressure to keep up with competitors of all sizes. This is all the more challenging in an uncertain political and economic landscape with shifting consumer preferences and new technology that continues to develop at pace.
“As a result, there are more demands on their budget than ever, and these are forcing SMEs to spend smarter. One way to make budgets work harder is to engage suppliers who don’t just provide competitively priced products and services – but also offer access to the specialists who provide consultancy to help businesses continue to thrive. This will help SMEs derive the most value from their experts, helping to drive their business forward.”
Barclaycard’s research suggests that specialists should be worked with that have a knowledge of emerging technologies such as, conversational commerce and invisible payments. However, only 33% of businesses have heard of these technologies despite 44% of consumers admitting to being keen to pay using these methods.
The research was based on the opinions of 253 decision makers within B2C SME retailers.