3.6 What are the stumbling blocks for SMEs in using ICT as a competitive tool?
There are a number of stumbling blocks or barriers that make it difficult for SMEs to adopt ICT. Ngwenyama and Morawczynski (2007) argue that everyone assumes that ICT will successfully bring about benefits, but not all environments are the same. The issues affecting successful implementation or adoption of ICT are both socio-economic and technological. MacGregor and Vrazalic (2006) agree with the findings of Ngwenyama and Morawczynski (2007) that the barriers to adopting ICT by SMEs are both socio-economic and technological, by pointing out that the barriers can be caused by factors external and/or internal to the organisation, which in this case is the SME. According to Herselman (2003:945), “many of South Africa’s rural areas exist below subsistence levels and remain impoverished because they have no access to basic infrastructure essential for economic growth and development”.
Ritchie and Brindley (2005) mainly look at the barriers or diffusion agents that prevent the SME from adopting ICT. They group them into the following areas:
Strategic. This level addresses issues that impact on the direction of the business (business strategy), capital investments and networks in relation to ICT. SMEs should formulate their own IT/ICT strategic objectives.
Technological. This level deals with issues relating to the complexity of technology and professional support for the technology in relation to the production of goods and services. This level should underpin the above level of strategy, by implementing IT/ICT strategic plan in order to build a good IT/ICT architecture.
Organisational and behavioural. This level deals with issues that relate to the personality, such as capacity and risk perceptions. These also underpin the strategic level but the focus is on supporting the business process.
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