A strong information technology (IT) sector, projected to grow 5 percent in 2018, coupled with business owners across the board waking up to the reality of digital transformation and the need to be a part of it, translates into a favorable climate for channel partners. That’s according to CompTIA’s new “IT Industry Outlook 2018” report.
Among the report’s highlights: CompTIA’s IT Industry Business Confidence Index scored a high rating heading into 2018; demand in the tech labor market is expected to continue to outstrip supply; and business customers are marching toward embracing incremental technology changes
This latest report provides an overview of trends shaping the IT industry and workforce. It’s findings are based in part on a survey of IT industry executives in December that garnered nearly 700 responses.
Heading into 2018, executives from medium-size and large enterprises are the most bullish on the state of the market and economic prospects for their own organizations; however, smaller firms didn’t lag far behind, according to the report. That’s good news because small businesses make up the bulk of the U.S. business, and represent a big slice of channel-partner customers.
The top SMB priorities for the year include customer retention, expansion into new markets, business process improvements, innovation and workforce development — all of which involve deploying technology to achieve results. Gartner reports that SMBs account for almost half (44 percent) of IT spending globally.
As more SMB customers deploy tech solutions to run their businesses, management needs increase. Without a bench of tech-savvy employees, these firms turn to the channel. According to CompTIA, three in four (75 percent) survey respondents use a technology partner – i.e. solution provider, VAR or MSP – at least occasionally during a typical year. Of those, 20 percent use a tech partner frequently, while another 23 percent use them regularly.
SMBs that reported greater satisfaction with their IT are those who turn to channel partners.
“This should not necessarily be interpreted as causation, but it is reasonable to assume that businesses that recognize when they need help, and are willing to pay for it, tend to be in a better place with their IT than those that underinvest,” the report’s author noted.
Looking at SMBs that turn to MSPs, only two in five (39 percent) survey respondents report using MSPs in some capacity, while three in five (61 percent) don’t use MSPs.
The IT Industry Outlook 2018 also delves into 12 trends to watch this year. They are:
“The trends unfolding in the year ahead will do so in an environment of high expectations; namely, for business value, security, transparency and equal access to opportunity,” said Tim Herbert, senior vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA.