Virtualization, IT consolidation, business intelligence, software as a service and support of remote workers are emerging as the top technology investment priorities for SMBs in 2009, according to a five-country survey of more than 600 Microsoft Small Business Specialists.
The first Microsoft SMB Insight Report, which will be published annually, surveyed Microsoft Small Business Specialists in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Brazil.
Fifty percent of respondents identified virtualization or IT consolidation through a small or midsize server as the technology most likely to reduce operating costs. More than 50 percent of respondents considered CRM, virtualization or IT consolidation through a small or midsize server as the best investment for maximizing business growth in a down economy.
More than half also anticipate an increase in the number of SMB remote workers.
The respondents also expected a 20 percentage point increase this year in the number of SMBs that use software as a service.
The survey found the major concerns driving these SMB technology investments are declining revenue, competition from larger businesses and general economic difficulties. In response, many SMBs are focusing on IT investments that directly benefit their bottom line – either by reducing operating costs, improving employee productivity, or acquiring and retaining customers.
Current market conditions are challenging SMBs’ abilities to help revitalize the economy, but the Microsoft report forecasts 55 percent of small and midsize businesses will maintain or increase IT spending year over year through carefully placed investments.