Mobile, Cloud Technology Drive SMB IT Spending Growth
Seven out of 10 SMBs surveyed said they expect to increase their technology spending during the next 12 months, according to a recent study released by non-profit IT industry association CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association). Mobile and cloud technologies are particularly strong drivers of this expected growth.
A full one-third of the companies surveyed expect to increase their IT budget by 10% or more. CompTIA says this may reflect large, one-time purchases, which is still a good sign for technology vendors and solution providers. In the aggregate, SMB IT budgets are expected to increase by an average of slightly more than 5%, with some firms’ growth rates much higher and some flat.
For channel partners that may be wondering how exactly they can capitalize on this general trend of increased SMB IT spending, the survey has some specific details about in what areas spending will occur. Of greatest interest is a strong trend among SMBs in both the small and mid-sized segments of the SMB market to increase spending on mobile technology.
For medium-sized businesses (those with 100-499 employees), 42% currently have mobile technologies in place that allow them to interact with customers and give employees access to applications, data and networks in a mobile environment. Another 33% plan to do so in the next 12 months.
Among small businesses (10-99 employees), 25% use mobile solutions and 43% expect to start in the next 12 months. Even micro businesses (one to nine employees) expect to significantly increase usage of mobile technology, with current usage at 12% and planned usage at 22%.
Nearly one-third of SMBs have adopted cloud computing technology, with medium-sized businesses (42%) showing the highest utilization. Another 35% of all SMBs plan to use the cloud in some form in the next year.
Storage and backup solutions are the most heavily used cloud applications with 71% of SMBs using the cloud in this way. Email (62%), document management (59%), collaboration (56%) and customer relationship management (53%) are other popular options.
And for VARs and MSPs looking for a managed cloud service sales hook, among SMBs now using cloud computing, 92% of firms say their experience has been positive or very positive; and 97% report that their move to the cloud has produced the desired result, with cost and flexibility most frequently cited as the benefits of a cloud solution.
Clear Patterns and Trends
Survey results paint a pretty clear picture of where SMB IT spending is headed in the next 12 months. Even SMBs that currently have strong mobile and/or cloud install bases still likely need help with managing, monitoring and integrating these solutions that go beyond their internal capabilities and that their vendors cannot or will not provide.
The bottom line: VARs and MSPs serving the SMB market need to develop full-service mobile and cloud practices to ride IT’s two largest waves (at least for the moment). SMBs have perfectly illustrated where they are going, it is up to channel partners not to follow, but to lead the way.