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Techaisle: SD-WAN Adoption Proving Advantageous for SMBs

Poor network reliability is a clear pain point for SMBs, resulting in failing applications and lack of adoption.

Edward Gately

July 21, 2021

4 Min Read
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SD-WAN adoption among SMBs is providing a competitive advantage, with those embracing SD-WAN outpacing their less-advanced competitors in their digital transformations by a margin of 122%.

That’s according to a new report by Techaisle.

U.S. SMBs will spend $268 billion on technology in 2021, Techaisle said. Out of 5.4 million commercial SMBs, more than two-thirds (68%) are actively investing in digital transformation technologies. Furthermore, 55% have accelerated their investments in digital technologies.

Poor network reliability is a clear pain point for SMBs, resulting in failing applications and lack of adoption.

Nearly 90% of SMBs believe proactive, consistent network management that delivers ideal performance is either “important” or “very important.”

Despite its importance, connectivity-related issues take up almost half of an SMB’s IT time.

The study also revealed SMBs that use SD-WAN are more advanced in their digital transformation status than those who are still relying on older-generation networking technologies. SMBs that are holistic in their approach to digital transformation are 232% more likely to be using or actively planning to use SD-WAN than less advanced peers. Within two years, 56% of midsize businesses in the United States will have deployed SD-WAN.

Network Performance Issues

Anurag Agrawal is Techaisle’s founder and chief global analyst. He said network performance issues negatively impact client satisfaction, responsiveness and support staff efficiency. Most importantly, 43% of SMBs say negative network performance increases operational costs. That’s an essential consideration because achieving operational excellence is one of the top digital transformation drivers. Other top issues include a decrease in employee productivity and reduction in customer responsiveness.

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Techaisle’s Anurag Agrawal

“Network performance or slow connectivity is an issue, but most believe they have adequate capacity,” he said. “For example, 52% of SMB IT staff receive slow internet complaints several times a month. Yet 96% believe they have sufficient internet capacity/bandwidth. SMBs, for whom the cloud is an intrinsic component of the technology stack to accelerate digital transformation and drive innovation, pay somewhat less attention to the underlying infrastructure.”

Video Conferencing Connectivity

With collaboration solutions reaching an inflection point, three-fourths of businesses report video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex experience the highest percentage of network connectivity issues, Agrawal said. The pandemic has accelerated the need for network performance management. That’s because remote work increases network performance and productivity challenges.

“SMBs are investing in digital technologies to automate processes to achieve better business outcomes, and are inserting technology into existing processes to optimize efficiency and value,” he said. “Techaisle data finds there is a likely 160% increase in SD-WAN adoption penetration within SMBs in the next one year. It is the third most adoption growth opportunity after secure access service edge (SASE) and 5G. However, SASE and 5G are coming from a small base. Lack of SD-WAN suppliers’ focus on SMBs as a target segment, perceived high-cost, fewer channel partners offering SD-WAN solutions, and inability to connect SD-WAN with business needs are some of the reasons why SMBs are holding back from embracing SD-WAN solutions.”

Channel Opportunity ‘Enormous’

The channel opportunity is “enormous,” Agrawal said.

“However, lack of visibility into their clients’ IT infrastructure is the top frustration of MSPs and other channel partners, making it challenging to position SD-WAN as a panacea,” he said. “Although 95% of the MSPs offer network monitoring and management, less than one-third offer SD-WAN solutions. MSP perception of SD-WAN solution adoption is very different from SMB. MSPs are messaging consistent security instead of network performance and optimization needed by SMBs. The good news is that channel partners, similar to SMBs, believe that SD-WAN is a panacea for providing network resiliency.”

Joel Mulkey is Bigleaf Networks‘ founder & CEO.

“Channel partners have an opportunity to align the needs of their SMB customers with the offerings on the market,” he said. “If channel partners look at their customers between 100-1,000 employees, they’re going to find a lot of businesses that need SD-WAN, but that those needs look different than large enterprises. Those SMB and midsize businesses need a trusted adviser to show them that SD-WAN is not only a feasible solution for the SMB use case, but that there are solutions out there uniquely tailored to that use case.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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