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VR/AR, Hyperconverged Infrastructure and AI Top Tech Priorities

A new study reveals what's on the minds and agendas of SMBs

While small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and midmarket firms continue to be challenged by cloud, mobility, managed services, collaboration and analytics, hot technologies such as virtual reality/augmented reality, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and analytics, are on their radar, according to recent research by Techaisle

For the seventh year running, the market research firm takes a look at the top 10 small and medium-sized business (SMB) and midmarket business issues, IT challenges, and priorities. At first glance, and of particular interest, are the IT priorities that rise to the top for both SMB and medium-size organizations—priorities that translate to opportunities for partners—as do IT challenges and business issues.

This year, SMBs are prioritizing virtual reality (VR)/augmented reality (AR), and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Midmarket companies bumped up artificial intelligence (AI) as an IT priority. At the same time, Techaisle inquired about IT challenges faced by these two market segments. A new IT challenge on the list for midmarket firms is workplace transformation, which appeared sixth on the list for SMBs. Cloud orchestration and integration sat among the top five key IT challenges for both SMBs and midmarket companies – partners are you listening?

And, for the first time in seven years, Techaisle research found that the top business issues for both market segments are identical, with both SMBs and midmarket firms sharing nine of the top ten concerns in almost the same order.

“A key thing is what’s popped up over the past few years and that’s cloud, mobility, managed services, collaboration and analytics, which always percolate to the top because they’re becoming more important every year,” Anurag Agrawal, CEO Techaise, shared with us.

Anurag Agrawal

Here we take a deeper dive into the research, which involved almost 3,000 SMB and midmarket participants and looked at 21 technology areas, each with several sub-tech categories, 24 IT challenges, and 24 business issues:

As Agrawal noted, the top IT priorities for both SMBs and midmarket companies in 2018 are identical and are ranked in the same order: cloud, mobility, managed services, collaboration, and analytics. For SMBs, the top 10 list continues: security, virtualization, IoT, HCI/CI, and VR/AR, while for midmarket companies the top 10 list includes: virtualization, security, HCI/CI, IoT, and artificial intelligence.

In this year’s research, Techaisle also presented the top 10 priorities list of small businesses, which isn’t that different from that of the SMB and midmarket results: cloud, mobility, managed services, collaboration, security, analytics, virtualization, IoT, artificial intelligence, and VR/AR.

Firms looking for traction in the SMB market will want to demonstrate how their products/services offer compelling means of building viable approaches in one or more of these categories, said Agrawal, who is pictured above.

For SMBs, the top five business issues are: reducing operational costs, improving workforce productivity, improving quality of products and processes, increase profitability, and increasing business growth. Midmarket company business issues are: improving workforce productivity, reducing operational costs, increase profitability, improving the quality of products and processes, and increasing business growth.

When it comes to the top five IT challenges, SMBs list: budget constraints, mobility security, data protection/recovery/business continuity, cloud orchestration/integration; and managing data/app integration/insights, while midmarket companies list: workplace transformation, budget constraints, mobility security, data protection/recovery/business continuity, and cloud orchestration/integration.

It seems surprising to see security, such an important and much talked about IT issue, seems to be an important issue is so far down the list. “Security has become such a complicated framework that most SMBs realize the importance of security but they tend to kick the can down the road,” Agrawal said.

Again, a big opportunity for partners but not to sell point solutions, i.e. endpoint security, cloud security, mobility security, rather partners need to offer and end-to-end security solution for these customers. “Channel partners need provide security solutions that protect the data coming into the organization, going out of the organization, as well as protect the information within the organization and the people within the organization working on that data,” he added.

Finally, workplace transformation is an area of huge opportunity for partners, and a broad one. According to Techaisle, workplace transformation may be providing a unified workspace, helping SMB with VDI, desktop-as-a-service, or the integration of application across devices, for example.

 

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