YOU do not need to be a computer geek to new technology to benefit your business, Cambridgeshire business leaders say.

YOU do not need to be a computer geek to new technology to benefit your business, Cambridgeshire business leaders say.

SMEs in the county are missing out on opportunities to bring new technology into their business because directors and senior managers mistakenly believe they need to fully understand how it works in order for it to be successful, according to Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, which is urging senior managers and directors not to let a lack of understanding stand in the way of a forward-thinking IT strategy.

Andy Irvine, managing director of the Cambridge-based IT provider Boldfield Ltd and vice-chairman of the chambers' ICT sector said: "Most SME chief executives know that they could and should be doing more with IT, but so many are unsure of what they actually want.

"Some want to develop their online payment facilities, some are duplicating their workload on paper when it could all be done electronically, and others just find themselves continually shelling out for the latest pieces of computer software which are then barely used.

"They don't know how to define their requirements without necessarily understanding the technology, which then becomes a massive obstacle for companies who could otherwise be harnessing new IT technologies really effectively - and, most importantly, profitably - within their business."

John Bridge OBE, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, added: "Over the last 18 months, private sector organisations have taken significant steps to become more efficient and ensure that costs are streamlined, but it is important that businesses do not now start to miss out on business development opportunities because of a reluctance to invest in their IT infrastructure. It is often tempting to shy away from new business tools that we don't understand, but the chambers' message to businesses is to be forward-thinking when it comes to IT. Otherwise, of course, you may find that your competitors are always at least one step ahead."

The chambers' concerns are echoed by Professor Alan Barrell, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning within the Judge Business School at Cambridge University.

Prof Barrell, who was chairman of the Papworth Trust when it developed the Saxongate Centre in Huntingdon town centre, said: "An IT strategy and an appropriate and outstanding IT system are essential for the successful company - especially the SME. So many organisations that are seeking growth and greater success know that there are a host of technologies that can help, but the majority fail to make the leap and end up confused by technology and unable to harness its power."

Prof Barrell will be addressing local businesses at a seminar next Tuesday where he will examine how companies can successfully apply IT technology and develop an IT strategy without gaining an intimate knowledge of the technologies themselves.

Based on real world examples and case studies he will draw on his 30 years at the helm of successful organisations to show how non-technical directors and senior managers can rapidly grow their business by developing their IT strategy.

INFORMATION: Making the Case for an IT Strategy on Tuesday June 22, between 4.30pm and 7pm, is at the Moller Centre, Storey's Way, Cambridge CB3 0DE. To find out more and book a place at the seminar please visit www.cambridgeshirechamber.co.uk, call Kelly Hewitt on 01223 209810 or e-mail k.hewitt@cambscci.co.uk