By Max Clarke

Companies are jeopardising their security and growth potential by failing to keep pace with the latest cloud and virtualization technologies, new research has revealed.

More than nine out of 10 admitted they found advances in technology confusing and complex, with businesses taking a ‘head in the clouds’ approach towards IT safety and innovations such as Cloud computing.

And nearly three quarters of those who took part in the research thought modern IT systems needed more specialist support, yet a worrying two-thirds said economic pressures had led them to slash their IT budget in the past year.

The majority acknowledged that reducing technology spend could damage their business in the medium to long-term.

The study was carried out by network support company Lifeline IT, to find out the key IT issues affecting commerce today. It questioned companies in industries ranging from finance and telecommunications, to retail and property.

Security was ranked as most important, with 97% citing it as their top IT priority, closely followed by resilience and reliability, at 96%. Despite rapid advancements in technology, only 14% felt it was important to keep abreast of innovation.

A surprisingly low 10% of those questioned rated Cloud computing as important, with nearly all of those polled believing the risks associated with the internet-based platform outweighed the business and commercial advantages.

Although some reports indicate that the global cloud computing market could be worth £10.4b by 2013, less than a quarter who took part in the research felt it would be commonplace in businesses in five years time.

“Despite technology playing an increasingly important role in business growth and development,” commented, Lifeline IT founder and director, Daniel Mitchell, “companies are failing to get to grips with some fundamental basics around security and innovation.”

“IT and technology can be confusing but with credible advice and wise financial investment, it can bring huge amounts of added value to an organisation.”

Companies from sectors including education, government and marketing also took part in the research, which is carried out annually by Lifeline IT. Over a third said they brought in external expertise to handle their IT needs, with 30% using an in-house IT department and 34% combining a mix of both outsourced and in-house.

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