Cost-conscious businesses are finding revenues falling and market share growing, while grappling with IT security concerns, a survey finds.
A survey 170 IT decision makers at midsize businesses, conducted by SWC
Technology Partners, found respondents judged security the highest-priority
technology project category, with 55 percent indicating it holds top
importance. Business intelligence is the second highest priority, with 38
percent saying it is highly important.
The majority of responders were IT senior leaders from organizations in Illinois,
Wisconsin and Indiana,
On the economic front, small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) are reporting
lower revenues but increased market share. More than 58 percent of respondents
reported lower revenues, and 46 percent see decreased profit margins this year.
IT budget cuts or freezes have affected 62 percent of respondents. However, 89
percent of respondents reported they have either maintained or increased market
share. Only 11 percent said they have lost market share in recent months.
The survey revealed other top IT concerns as storage, Web development and LAN/WAN
infrastructure. The least important technology project category is proprietary
systems (not available for public use or resale), with 57 percent indicating it
held low importance.
IT staffing levels remained generally steady for respondents over the past
year. However, the area seeing the greatest increase in staffing (13 percent)
as well as outsourcing (6 percent) is application development. End-user support
was cited most often as experiencing a reduction in staff (13 percent of
respondents), followed by network management and e-mail management.
Many midsize businesses are still exposed to the risks of maintaining a "one
man band"-style IT staff: 40 percent of respondents indicated that their
organization is absolutely dependant on a single individual for his or her
systems knowledge and expertise. Only 8 percent of respondents said they never
had an absolute dependency on a single individual for his or her systems
"The biggest surprise to me was the degree of reliance on a single person
for IT oversight and expertise, and the fact that survey participants report a
stable or increased market share despite budget and staffing reductions," said SWC
President Bob Knott. "After analyzing these results, we've decided to conduct
additional surveys to delve deeper into these issues and look beyond the
numbers to understand what's driving these actions."
IT managers were also surveyed on the return of investment (ROI) opportunities
in technology investment. Survey respondents cited virtualization as the
technology with the greatest return on investment justification (109 votes),
followed by collaboration/document sharing (97 votes) and Web development (90
votes) as most often having either high or medium cost justification.
Respondents rated proprietary systems as having the lowest ROI justification.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.