Unreliable and costly communication networks that limit flexible working are one of the biggest frustrations amongst retail businesses, new research has revealed.
A study by network support company Lifeline IT has revealed that despite IT being vital to 70% of retailers and nearly half regularly working remotely whilst ‘on the road’, 80% say access to reliable and fast public Wi-Fi is their biggest concern.
The company, which works for Sweaty Betty, Browns Fashion, Nicole Farhi and Seraphine, found a further 57% cited poor mobile reception and ‘dropping calls’ as another problem, with 49% of those questioned being frustrated at having to pay for sub-standard Wi-Fi.
And with a third of them admitting they have been targeted by cyber criminals, the safety of remote working is also a key issue, with 78% concerned about the security of open networks used by themselves and their employees.
Commenting on the study, Daniel Mitchell of Lifeline IT said: “Sadly, we weren’t at all surprised by these findings. We know from our own clients that businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated by poor network connections that are way below standard.”
“Although there have been huge developments in the range of devices now available so employees don’t have to be desk-bound, the infrastructure needed to service these state-of the-art smartphones and tablets does not always match-up.
“It’s particularly frustrating for businesses when they see such vast improvements in other parts of Europe, where efficient, free public Wi-Fi is commonplace.”
Now in its fourth year, Lifeline IT’s annual technology trends research polled businesses across the retail sector, in order to gain an understanding of the key IT issues they face.
Three-quarters called for improved, safer and free Wi-Fi to be widely available in the UK, and 44% want to see an increase in 4g coverage (fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology) and also in light of the recent iCloud hacking scandal.
Last year’s Lifeline IT study unearthed some worrying lapses in on-line security, with one in five businesses admitting they used ‘password’ as their password and 30% saying they had even left their password on a post-it note by their desk.
However, this year companies are taking the issue of on-line safety more seriously. Nearly two-thirds admit they are now more security conscious, partly due to the growth in on-line accounting and banking, with well over half (57%) saying they have an IT recovery plan in case they are hacked.
Four out of ten also want to see greater online and mobile security, with widespread use of biometric passwords, such as finger prints, palm prints and voice recognition.
Added Daniel, a founder and director of Lifeline IT: “It is re-assuring to see companies taking the threat of cyber-crime seriously and putting measures in place to safeguard themselves and their customers.
“Overall, businesses are now placing more emphasis and importance on IT than they were two or three years ago, which is a positive step forward. Companies are realising that sound investment in the right systems and technology doesn’t have to cost the earth but the benefits can be invaluable.”
With 20 years’ experience, Lifeline IT is a network support company which manages, sets up and develops IT systems for businesses across a variety of different sectors, including accountancy and finance.