Small Business IT Spending: Reason for Concern?

From Microsoft Corp. to managed service platform providers, everybody is taking aim at small business IT opportunities. But small businesses may not be willing to open their wallets very wide for IT, according to a new survey by CDW Corp.

Overall, the big product reseller said IT decision makers are somewhat more optimistic now than the were in December. CDW offers some deeper details in a press release. But mainstream media companies like Reuters see the glass half empty, reporting that:

Only 30 percent of small U.S. businesses plan to increase technology spending in the next six months compared with about two-thirds of larger companies, according to a survey released on Wednesday.
Still, I think CDW and Reuters may have missed the mark, because they didn't consider key managed services trends.

Indexes and IT spending barometers like CDW's can help us all to see the road ahead. But I wonder if the CDW index is a little off the mark with regard to small businesses. Within our own small business, most of our technology budget goes to IT services rather than IT products.

Before we spend a dime on technology, we ask ourselves one question: Will the IT investment help to increase our sales? Generally speaking, we pump money into Web site development, search engine optimization, e-mail marketing services, online advertising systems, managed services, etc. Buying a traditional piece of hardware through an online reseller like CDW isn't a big priority for us.

Reality Check, Please

I suspect the situation is similar within many small businesses. Entrepreneurs want predictable refresh cycles for their hardware, software and services. They don't want to spend big dollars at unpredictable intervals. In short, they want true managed services with hardware as a service bundled in.

With this in mind, it's hardly surprising that CDW says only 30 percent of small U.S. businesses plan to increase IT spending in the next six months. What they really want to do is keep IT spending flat each month, and pay a monthly fee to their MSP.
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