IT Strategies in SMB Preview

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While the small to midsize business sector has suffered along with the faltering economy, there are signs that SMBs may be headed for an upturn in IT spending later this year, according to just-released VARBusiness research.

In order to assess current strategies in the SMB marketplace, VARBusiness partnered with Bernett Research Services, a Boston-based data collection firm specializing in technology. The market study, comprised of 400 SMB customers, covers many pressing issues, including IT spending priorities, outsourcing plans and Internet access. Let's sneak a peek at some of the research findings from the upcoming, Aug. 19 business intelligence series.

Shifting Gears
Nearly 90 percent of the SMBs surveyed expect their technology budgets to either increase (39 percent) or remain the same (50 percent) in the next 12 months.

While the current economic crisis has forced most SMBs to leverage their existing technology investments more effectively (84 percent), a majority (56 percent) intend to rely on technology as a way to differentiate their businesses.

Growth sectors
Security and VPN platforms (56 percent), followed by Internet or Web-related hardware, software or services (52 percent) and computer hardware, including servers and PCs (51 percent) are the spending priorities among SMBs for the next 12 months. Replacing aging or broken equipment is the No. 1 trigger for making a technology purchase, according to 80 percent of our survey respondents.

Gaining Traction
A majority of SMBs (51 percent) ranked connecting employees to the Internet as their top technology priority this year, followed by automating customer interactions (39 percent) and adopting wireless capabilities (26 percent). Moreover, among the SMBs polled, Web services ranked as the No. 1 application running on the Internet (67 percent). Database software (48 percent) and general office productivity applications (48 percent) tied for second place.

Indirect Friendships
More than one in four respondents (26 percent) say their technology purchasing decisions will be influenced by a solution provider. And more than one in three small to midsize end users (38 percent) will likely spend via the channel in the next 12 months.

Maximizing Worth
When selecting an outside IT provider, the SMB customer's top two criteria are the solution provider's technical expertise (43 percent) and cost (22 percent).

Stay tuned--learn more about how to capitalize on your SMB customer relationships in VARBusiness' IT Strategies in SMB, coming Aug. 19.

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