Although almost all SMEs consider IT to be crucial to business success, over a quarter admit they do not know enough about IT and how to make it work for their business, according to HP research.

HP commissioned a survey among 1,000 UK companies employing between one and fifty employees to find out how small firms are using technology to grow their business.

The research found that only just over a third (36 percent) of SMEs are deploying ecommerce strategies.

Despite this, over the past 12 months, 37 percent said they had grown their business. And over 90 percent of respondents are optimistic about the future of their business over the next three to five years. But only 43 percent were optimistic about the state of the UK economy over the same period.

Gavin Parrish, UK & Ireland commercial category manager at HP, said, “As the research clearly shows, many in this sector are still getting their heads around how to make IT work hard for their business.

"By providing information and support for this sector through our Business Answers blog SMEs can understand how IT can help grow their business."

On the low ecommerce take-up found in the HP research, Emma Jones, founder of SME support organisation Enterprise Nation, said, “The web allows you to launch a business on a Monday and be trading with the world by Wednesday.

"Small business owners should grasp this opportunity and sell through their own site or via on-line sales platforms. When you make the most of technology, you make the most of a global market.”

Although the HP research found that a quarter of SMEs were not confident about using IT for business, and ecommerce take up was relatively low, another recent survey found that nearly half of SMEs in the UK are using smartphones for business purposes, including email and other business internet functions.