Seven out of 10 SMBs surveyed said they expect to increase their technology spending over the next 12 months.
Small and midsized
businesses intend to expand their use of technology to improve customer
interactions, mobility options and operational efficiencies, according to a
study released by CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the IT industry.
Seven out of 10 SMBs surveyed said they expect to increase their technology
spending over the next 12 months, according to the organization's Third Annual
Small and Medium Business Technology Adoptions Trends study.
A third of the companies
surveyed expect to increase their IT budget by 10 percent or more. The report
said this might reflect large, one-time purchases, which is a good sign for
technology vendors and solution providers. In the aggregate, the report expects
SMB IT budgets to increase by an average of slightly over 5 percent, with some
firms' growth rates much higher and some flat.
"Technology is more
accessible, more affordable and more available to SMBs than ever before," said
Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis at CompTIA. "SMBs may not have
an abundance of capital to invest, so they have to make every dollar count. But
the majority is willing to spend money on new technologies, especially
solutions that give them capabilities on par with a larger enterprise.
Technology plays an integral role in the life of a small business."
Among the factors driving
SMB technology buying decisions over the next 12 months are desires for better
network efficiencies and robustness, improved connections with customers online
and in a mobile environment, enhanced resource management and tracking, and
more business analytics.
The desire to become more
mobile-for both customer interactions and employee productivity-is a trend
identified in the CompTIA study. For medium-sized businesses (those with100-499
employees), 42 percent currently have technologies in place-tablets, laptops, smartphones
and other devices-that allow them to interact with customers and give employees
access to applications, data and networks in a mobile environment. Another 33
percent plan to do so in the next 12 months.
Among small businesses (10
to 99 employees), 25 percent use mobile solutions and 43 percent expect to
start doing so in the next 12 months. Even micro businesses (one to nine
employees) expect to significantly increase their use of mobile technology,
with current usage at 12 percent and planned usage at 22 percent.
Another example of how SMBs
mirror their larger counterparts in technology use is in the "consumerization"
of IT in the corporate environment. A full 85 percent of SMBs surveyed said
their employees use personal tech devices for work purposes. Laptops and
smartphones are the most popular options, but 38 percent of the companies see
employees bringing in tablets.
While personal devices may
offer convenience and productivity benefits, the CompTIA study suggests that
the trend is cause for concern among the large majority (82 percent) of SMBs.
Midmarket companies may be seeking to mitigate these risks by purchasing
tablets, laptops, smartphones and other devices their employees use, bringing
them under corporate control.
"The top concerns are
security-related, whether in the form of a virus being brought into the company
network or some breach related to customer data," Robinson said. "The time
supporting these devices is also cited as a concern, whether it's time spent by
IT staff or by individual employees attempting to access corporate networks and
Nearly one-third of SMBs
have adopted cloud-computing technology, with medium-sized businesses showing
the highest utilization (42 percent). Another 35 percent of all SMBs plan to
use the cloud in some form in the next year. Storage and backup solutions are
the most heavily used cloud applications, with 71 percent of SMBs using the
cloud in this way. Email (62 percent), document management (59 percent),
collaboration (56 percent) and CRM (53 percent) are other popular options.
Among SMBs now using cloud
computing, 92 percent of firms say their experience has been positive or very
positive, and 97 percent report that their move to the cloud has produced the
desired result, with cost and flexibility most frequently cited as the benefits
of a cloud solution.