Look for small and medium business (SMBs) to increase their technology spending over the course of the next year. So says CompTIA in its third annual Small and Medium Business Technology Adoptions Trends study.
Seven out of ten SMBs surveyed said they would spend more on tech in an effort to improve customer interactions, mobility options and operational efficiencies.
One-third of the companies surveyed plan a significant increase in their IT budgets – 10 percent or more. Overall, the report says, SMB IT budgets will increase by an average of slightly more than 5 percent.
"Technology is more accessible, more affordable and more available to SMBs than ever before," said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. "SMBs may not have an abundance of capital to invest, so they have to make every dollar count. But the majority is willing to spend money on new technologies, especially solutions that give them capabilities on par with a larger enterprise. Technology plays an integral role in the life of a small business."
Factors driving upcoming SMB technology buying decisions include desires for better network efficiencies and robustness; improved connections with customers online and in a mobile environment; enhanced resource management and tracking; and more business analytics.
Wireless – for customer interactions and employee productivity – is also significant. Forty-two percent of medium-sized businesses (those with 100-499 employees) surveyed currently have technologies in place – tablets, laptops, smartphones and other devices – that allow them to interact with customers and give employees access to applications, data and networks in a mobile environment. Another 33 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months.
Among small businesses (10-99 employees), 25 percent use mobile solutions and 43 percent expect to start in the next 12 months. Even the smallest of businesses surveyed (one to nine employees) expect to significantly increase usage of mobile technology, with current usage at 12 percent and planned usage at 22 percent. But along with wireless adoption comes concerns about security, and that was reflected in the survey.
"The top concerns are security-related, whether in the form of a virus being brought into the company network or some breach related to customer data," Robinson said. "The time supporting these devices is also cited as a concern, whether it's time spent by IT staff or by individual employees attempting to access corporate networks and applications."
SMBs may be seeking to mitigate these risks by purchasing tablets, laptops, smartphones and other devices their employees use, bringing them under corporate control.
On the cloud front, the CompTIA survey shows near one-third of SMBs have adopted cloud-computing technology, with medium-sized businesses (42 percent) adopting it the most. Another 35 percent of all SMBs plan to use the cloud in some form in the next year.