Home Industry Strategy Use of ‘involuntary IT managers’ causes massive productivity losses for SMBs

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Small businesses in Australia and in other countries around the world are losing a whopping $24 billion every year in productivity through non-technical employees – or ‘involuntary IT managers’ – being given the responsibility of managing their company’s IT systems.

The estimates of lost productivity are reportedly a direct result of the ‘involuntary’ managers, IITMs, taking time away from their primary business role and subsequent activities.

The issue is raised in a report by AMI-Partners, commissioned by Microsoft, which looked at the prevalence of the IITM role in nine countries in North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, focusing specifically on the adverse business productivity impact of IITMs in small business (SMBs) in Australia, Brazil, Chile, India and the United States.  The study surveyed 538 IITMs in small businesses with 100 employees or less.

And, although the SMBS in all the countries surveyed spent $83 billion on IT and communications, the report highlights the fact, paradoxically, that they lost the $24 billion in productivity trying to manage their internal IT.

The study revealed that Australian IITMs lose more than 3.1 hours of time every week managing IT solutions instead of tending to their day-to-day job responsibilities, which equates to a total 161 hours of lost productivity annually.

Of the five countries surveyed Australian IITMs recorded the lowest level of lost productivity hours wasted, although the report stresses that the loss still represents a significant economic impact to Australian small businesses’ bottom lines.  

In his blog, Microsoft Australia’s SMB Director, Gianpaolo Carraro, says that he regularly speaks to small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s), who tell him it is regular practice for one person to fulfil multiple business roles.

“In Australia, there are 1.2 million SMBs who represent over 96 percent of all Australian businesses and 33 percent of Australia’s GDP (OECD.org, 2012). Within these often lean teams, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of IT, HR and finance departments, so many employees will be given multiple responsibilities within the company,” Carraro says.

“The pressures of running a small business can mean that an employee in the company is forced into the uncomfortable position of diverting their attention from meeting critical business needs to managing an immediate problem with the company’s IT systems. This person, often the most tech-savvy employee in the company, is then saddled with the unofficial role of the ‘Involuntary IT Manager’.”


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Peter Dinham


Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).