High cost of IT offputting

The Accountancy Age/UK Online for Business survey found that half of all business accountants see the high cost of IT as the biggest barrier to buying new technology.

A lack of internal IT skills (41%) and integration concerns (38%) were cited as the next two most popular reasons. The difficulty of justifying the return on IT investment was also seen as important. Of those questioned, 37% claimed this was a major barrier to the uptake of technology.

However, these results stood in stark contrast to the reasons put forward by practice accountants.

Almost four-fifths, 77%, cited a lack of understanding of technology among staff as the major barrier to taking up technology.

Three quarters thought a lack of internal skills was the main barrier, while some way behind (48%), was the problem of cost.

Just 22% considered the difficulty in justifying the return on investment as the major barrier.

The results of the survey will be a further problem for e-commerce minister Stephen Timms as he works to encourage businesses to embrace new technologies.

The survey also revealed other differences of opinion between the two sets of accountants. Asked where they find the most useful sources of advice to improve their knowledge of technology, 53% of business accountants put their faith in technology companies.

However, 56% of practice accountants preferred to trust the word of their professional body/association.

Both sides, however, put a lot of faith in magazines/newspapers and the internet. Up to 76% of business accountants gleaned their primary information from the media – and 86% of practice accountants – while there was similar use of the web.

The survey, which focused on SMEs, questioned more than 530 accountants evenly split between practice and business accountants.

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