Despite Weak Economy, SMBs Continue IT Spending

Call it a blessing in disguise. Most recent economic reports say SMBs have been slow to make hires. But most IT research indicates that SMBs continue to expand their IT spending. In theory, that means SMBs will increasingly turn to managed services providers (MSPs) and other external folks for IT assistance to fill tactical and strategic gaps.

Indeed, the US SMB tech support market will be worth more than $15 billion in three years, according to a Parks Associates study which says the combined SMB/household tech support market will reach $30 billion, with households accounting for well over 40% of the spend. That still leaves more than half of a very lucrative pie in the hands of SMBs, which by default leaves much of it in the hands of MSPs who serve SMBs lacking in-house tech support capabilities.

Market Underutilized

It should be no great surprise to MSPs with SMB experience that Parks Associates terms this slice of the tech support market “underutilized.” Study data indicates 44% of SMBs experience computer problems, but only 28% of those SMBs use professional support services.

A combination of many MSPs ignoring the potential offered by smaller clients and basic ignorance on the availability of managed services on the part of many SMBs leads to this market not living up to its potential. Of course, this is great news for MSPs who serve the SMB vertical and aren’t shy about trumpeting the advantages their services provide.

Stay Up to Date with Platforms, Channels

The study also finds that long-term growth in the SMB tech support market depends on the ability to add support for new platforms and scale services to provide for multiple channels of support. Parks Associates advises that expanding to include on-site, remote, and depot repair, with proactive maintenance services for multiple devices, is key to growing the market.

In plain terms, don’t expect to achieve long-term growth by finding some new customers for your existing services. That will gain you some initial new clients, but they won’t stick around long if you can’t grow along with their needs.

Game-changers any MSP seeking long-term growth in the SMB tech support market needs to stay abreast of include tablets, smartphones, cloud infrastructure, and integrated cross-channel platforms. Even your small clients are moving away from a siloed IT architecture toward a more holistic model, your support services need to follow suit.

Previously, I wrote an entry on how big box retailers like Office Depot are trying to capitalize on the SMB tech support market. Parks Associates specifically cites how big box retailers, as well as telecommunications companies and the OEMs themselves, are “important” in the space. But when it comes to personal SMB relationships, can anybody really compete with effective MSPs?

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TAGS: Technology
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