Drawing from the literature, the purpose of this paper is to offer an empirically validated framework for examining information technology (IT) readiness in small firms.
A conceptual framework of IT readiness for small firms is developed and validated empirically using a quantitative survey of 117 UK manufacturing small firms to identify distinct clusters of firms according to their states of IT readiness.
The survey responses are grouped according to three distinct profiles that display varying degrees of IT readiness depending upon their strategic motivation, IT processes, project management and technology complexity.
Prior studies examining IT readiness in small-and medium-sized enterprises have not offered a differentiated understanding of small firms that is grounded in quantitative data. The varying profiles of small firms discovered indicate potential paths of IT readiness which offers a basis for further research using longitudinal case studies.
Managerial motivation is not a sufficient condition for achieving IT readiness; it requires both strategic and operational capabilities that have significant implications for training and skills development in small firms. Understanding the level of IT readiness of their organisation can help managers identify areas needing improvement in their use of IT.
Findings suggest differentiated policy support is required for various small business clusters identified in the study.
The novelty of the conceptual model differs from the prior literature on IT readiness by explicitly recognising the potential effect of IT maturity on the capability of the firm to respond to opportunities in its external environment. The paper also distinguishes between internal IT processes and project management skills.
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