The global economic slowdown so prominent in media headlines since the start of the decade has had a deep impact not just on short term sales and profits, but also on the global business community’s “psyche” and consciousness in general. Cutbacks and so-called austerity measures have rippled across government and private sector goods and services delivery alike.

But recessions happen for a reason, so is it all bad news?

Answer #1: NO – there is a school of thought among economists detailing the sharpening of business processes during economic slowdowns. As we shed cumbersome unprofitable business units and/or processes, we become more “nimble” and ready for new more challenging commercial landscapes – or so the theory goes.

Answer #2: YES, it is bad news – the truth is that while companies are cutting back to meet austerity targets, it is fairly common to see crucial infrastructural elements of the business being chipped away at. But these are the very things that the business cannot afford to lose.

Cutback targets often focus on areas such as marketing and advertising, sometimes to the detriment of business in the longer run. Cutbacks often focus on employees and what are deemed to be less productive workers; like marketing this is a very subjective area and one that is hard to quantity.

Where cutbacks have also often focused is on IT security controls i.e. licenses for current versions of anti-malware software. What we are able to say here is that there is an economic certainty at hand if this business component is cut i.e. increased risk of data loss and associated risk to intellectual property.

IT security expenditure should always be viewed as an “investment in business continuity” rather than a cost in the first instance. To suggest that AVG itself should be viewed as some sort of economic barometer may be too strong, but since the turn of the decade our business has not reduced its total employee count or the amount we have been investing in our own research labs. If anything, the figures show these areas developing.

We used the work “psyche” at the start of this blog and there’s a good reason for that. This subject is all about mentality and way an SMB tackles web-based dangers, which may prey on weaknesses in its operational workings.

You could even argue that it comes down to attitude.

The “risk averse” SMB still wants to avoid infection by malware and Internet-driven dangers. The “risk adverse” SMB takes active steps to protect itself as a matter of basic trading best practice.

However you define it, this has been a time of great business uncertainty. What we can say definitively is that if we combine or multiply those uncertainties with a reduction in IT security spend, then we have a certainty of risk and our future profitability is at stake. We hope that this is the kind of business model that every SMB will grasp.