New research shows that the small and medium business tech-support market will grow at an annual rate of more than 14 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Parks Associates says network complexity, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends and the growth of cloud services will drive the market, which will reach nearly $25 billion just three years from now.
The research says there are nearly 6 million U.S. firms with between one and 99 employees. Nonprofits and non-employer firms also account for a large part of the market potential; the U.S. non-employer segment will reach nearly 24 million in 2013. The report shows that 45 percent of U.S. SMBs with between one and 20 employees have paid for tech support at least once in the past year, but as the SMB network gets more complicated, many existing solutions are inadequate.
"Many tech support providers have offered SMBs a product that was, essentially, a consumer solution on steroids," said Jim O'Neill, research analyst, Parks Associates. "But as SMBs have become more dependent on 24/7 uptime, tech-support providers are responding with more robust offerings. Ideally, these new products are delivered by companies that already have relationships with SMBs: service providers like ISPs, cable companies, and telcos. Tech support is a great source of incremental revenue for them and also helps keep their services sticky."
Parks Associates found that the cloud services most popular with SMBs are collaboration, data backup, storage and CRM. SMBs value migration to the cloud as a way to reduce software and hardware spending, but integration can be complex, opening new opportunities for tech support providers that can address these issues.
And with the number of SMB employees bringing their own devices to work increasing, education will be a major component in tech support for small businesses.
" ... especially for those microSMBs that rely heavily on uninterrupted computer function but encourage BYOD to save costs," O'Neill said. "Small business owners can spend up to 20 hours a month solving IT issues. Support providers need to develop tools that target those lost hours."
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