Although small businesses may be more nimble than big enterprises, that doesn’t mean they have any less trouble keeping up with technological trends. The way business is conducted in a cloud-enhanced world is just as dynamic for a single-proprietor operation as it is for an international conglomerate. And what differences there are can typically be explained by the scale of change rather than the change itself.

Results from a November 2017 survey of small businesses by Microsoft indicate that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are excited to bring new technology to their operations in 2018 but still feel the challenge of staying ahead of advancing technology. The survey of 1,300 small businesses reveals several patterns of thought regarding future deployment of business technologies and suggests a plan of action for Microsoft and other information technology companies looking to reach the SMB market.

SEE: 17 tips for protecting Windows computers and Macs from ransomware (free TechRepublic PDF)

2018 plans

In what could be described as a harbinger of economic growth, according to the survey, over a third of the SMBs that responded say they plan to introduce new products and services during 2018. Well over a third also plan to implement a new marketing strategy. Both results indicate optimism regarding the growth of business in 2018.

However, there are some disturbing results from the survey regarding cybersecurity and how SMBs perceive threats. Some 50% of the respondents say they are not concerned about a data breach. Another 25% say they are doing nothing to protect their businesses from a data breach.

This attitude is extremely dangerous and short-sighted and is likely to cost SMBs and the overall economy millions, if not billions, of dollars in 2018. This is a line of thinking that simply must change. Technology, much of it designed specifically for SMBs, is available to help prevent data breaches, and these businesses have to take advantage of those protections.

SEE: Report: 71% of SMBs are not prepared for cybersecurity risks (TechRepublic)

Bottom line

The results from the Microsoft survey show that SMBs are looking forward to 2018 with an optimistic attitude regarding the growth of their businesses. This is great news for Microsoft and other information technology companies, as SMB growth translates into more demand for their products. The next year seems primed for opportunities to provide more cloud services and productivity software–good news for Microsoft.

But there is obviously still a need to educate SMB owners about the perils of cyber threats. Every business, regardless of size, must operate as if there will be a data breach at any moment–because that is the current reality. No business, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant, is immune from a cyberattack.

All businesses must be prepared with a comprehensive plan for when, NOT IF, a data breach occurs. Merely hoping an attack will never happen will cost you money, reputation, and possibly even your entire livelihood.

SEE: Intrusion detection policy (Tech Pro Research)

Microsoft and other companies in the IT industry offer products and services specifically designed for SMBs and their cybersecurity needs. There is simply no excuse for any business to operate without a clear plan for protecting sensitive data. Perhaps before SMBs finalize plans for new products or services in 2018, they should consider implementing a comprehensive intrusion detection plan and incident response policy.

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