Small Businesses More Aggressive in Technology Adoption, Study Finds

A survey of more than 400 cost-conscious businesses found a majority of midmarket companies are willing to pay a premium for new technologies, like virtualization and unified communications, if there are proven returns on the investment.

Small and medium-sized businesses across the United States are increasingly relying on new IT solutions to strengthen their operational, marketing and customer engagement activities, according to a new study released April 28 by CompTIA, a trade association for the global IT industry.

The organization's second annual "SMB Technology Adoption Trends" study discovered that a significant majority of U.S. SMBs (80 percent) are looking for technology solutions that "deliver immediate payback in terms of minimum disruption of business continuity and seamless integration with existing solutions."
In addition, 71 percent of SMBs-which CompTIA classifies as businesses with 10 to 499 employees-said they are willing to pay a premium for new solutions with a proven return on investment. The study found SMBs are considering IT solutions including virtualization (interest is strongest in the area of server virtualization, where 37 percent of SMBs plan to adopt over the next 12 months) and unified communications (UC); 25 percent of SMBs expect to adopt a VOIP (voice-over-IP) solution this year.
CompTIA reported that compared to 2009's data, 2010 may result in a two- to threefold increase in the use of managed services and nearly 20 percent of SMBs surveyed plan to begin using open-source software in the next 12 months. Within the next 12 months, nearly half (45 percent) of midmarket companies surveyed said there is a need to address the priority of enabling off-site employees to remotely access company networks.

The study was fielded via an online survey of more than 400 U.S. SMB executives in February 2010. The survey reached businesses in vertical markets, including manufacturing, finance and insurance, health care, government and professional services.
The CompTIA study also showed that while IT innovation is leveling the competitive landscape for businesses of all sizes, even the smallest companies face daunting technology challenges. Top IT priorities for U.S. SMBs included keeping up with storage demands (cited by 55 percent of responding companies) and providing richer customer experience through the Web (53 percent). As the great majority of SMBs surveyed had employees who telecommute (72 percent) or are mobile (87 percent), managing ever-increasing numbers of devices and networks to accommodate mobile and telecommuting workers also ranked as a top priority.

"The underlying take-away is that SMBs want IT that works right the first time and will look to solutions that do," said Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA. "Thanks to innovation, the steady decrease of the cost of computing power and storage and new business models, technology has never been more accessible to companies of all sizes."