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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Managing risk - protecting SMB business against operational threats

In the list of top 10 worldwide SMB business issues derived from Techaisle’s global survey of SMBs (1-999 employees), “managing uncertainty” ranks tenth, and the word “risk” doesn’t appear at all. This is likely more a reflection of how SMB executives would like the world to be, rather than a representation of everyday reality. The acronym FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is familiar to most business managers, and not simply as a catch-phrase: SMBs walk a fine line between managing risk resulting from the actions that they take (for example, security or privacy exposure relating to new systems) and risk arising from actions that they have not yet taken (which has its own acronym – “FOMO, or “fear of missing out”).

Clearly, security technologies are a core component of corporate risk management strategies. Techaisle’s global research, however, has identified several other solutions, including VDI/DaaS, managed services and IoT, which help executives to understand and manage risk in their operations. By capitalizing on the attributes of the technologies that best fit an SMB organization, obe can define an approach that allows the business to address ‘downside’ issues and move ahead with ‘upside’ opportunities.

IT security

Risk management is best achieved by developing a portfolio that incorporates IT security. It’s also true that IT security relies on a portfolio approach: there are at least 10 major technology solutions that are in common use by SMBs today.

For example, Techaisle’s US research shows that the top two solutions, anti-spam/email security and anti-virus/anti-malware/anti-spyware, are ubiquitous, with effectively universal deployment. Two other technologies, firewalls and web/content filtering, are in widespread use, at 73% and 55% respectively. No other security technology is used by more than 50% of SMBs: 49% of US SMBs use breach detection, 45% use data loss prevention (DLP) technologies, and usage levels drop for the other solutions on the list, to 25% for vulnerability scanning.

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Connected Security is essential for empowering Future of Work

Security is a feature that needs to be present within each layer of the stack. Security, needs to permeate all layers of an IT solution stack. IT security isn’t a discrete category – it is a ubiquitous factor in all aspects of IT/business infrastructure. 

The most important IT-related development in 2018 and beyond will be a focus on connectedness – connected cloud, edge, applications, security, collaboration, workspaces and insights. Internet and the web are the navigation routes that we have been developing since the 1970s; the always-on, everywhere-connected Interwork© platform is the destination that we will be creating in 2018 and for years to come. Please read Future of Work - Interwork: the next step in connected businesses

If there is an evident downside to ubiquitous and constant connectivity, it’s security. In conventional IT environments, security followed a ‘castle keep’-type approach: IT security staff gathered all critical information assets at the core of the environment, and focused their resources on hardening the perimeter, in much the same way that ancient castles used a moat and wall to safeguard people and assets within a central tower.

Today, of course, nations do not use castles as fortifications – and in truth, the traditional approach to security is scarcely better attuned to contemporary IT security needs. With the rise of mobility, cloud and connected supply chains reaching from component suppliers to OEMs to distribution and consumers, there is no perimeter to harden; any sizeable enterprise will have literally thousands of shifting entry points capable of accessing one or more corporate systems. And the rise in the value of information has spawned a sophisticated cyber theft industry: ‘bad actors’ use many different types of tactics and advanced technology to infiltrate corporate IT environments, with an eye towards stealing customer credit card data or internal financial or engineering information, hijacking corporate IT resources or obtaining some other form of benefit.

Security is the most amorphous of IT market categories. Virtually all other technologies occupy a defined position within the solution stack. Today’s security strategies no longer resemble a ‘wrapper’ around assets – they are built into each element of the corporate IT stack and rely on connectedness to (as the NIST framework recommends ) identify threats, protect against attacks, detect intruders if/when they breach perimeter defenses, respond to security events, and recover information lost to theft, loss and/or malware. 

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The growing importance of IT and Security to SMB business

It is evident from even a casual tour of a modern SMB office that IT has become integral to business activities. Email and communications systems that meld conventional, web-based and mobile phones; and social collaboration tools on the web and within offices provide the basis for connections between companies and customers, across processes and with suppliers, and between staff members. Productivity applications like spreadsheets, graphic presentation packages and word processors enable users to complete tasks, while enterprise applications capture and report on financial data and organize processes.

Given the nearly-ubiquitous nature of IT, it is fair to wonder: are we “there” yet? Have all of the technologies that one needs been deployed? Results from a recent Techaisle survey of 1455 North American SMB IT managers (ITDMs) and business decision makers (BDMs) conducted by Techaisle indicate that there is still a voracious appetite for new IT-based business solutions. Asked to evaluate the business importance of current IT developments, 77 percent of SMB survey respondents reported that new IT systems would have a very high to high impact to their organizations. Only 6 percent believe that new IT products and services will have little impact on their businesses. Clearly, SMB BDMs and ITDMs agree that new technology will play an important role in making their businesses more profitable, and their employees more productive.

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Interwork - the next step in connected businesses

Internet and the web are the navigation routes that we have been developing since the 1970s; the always-on, everywhere-connected Interwork platform is the destination that we will be creating in 2018 and for years to come.

As we enter 2018, it seems that online capabilities and activities are entering a new era. There are still advances to be made in the ‘net’ realm: there is constant pressure to expand the speed of the Internet, enabling it to handle the voracious demands of unstructured content like video, and the rise of IoT portends a coming tsunami of data from billions of connected devices. However, the key focus of web-based business investment is now less about the ‘net’ and more about the ‘work’: the ways that an increasingly-connected world supports pursuit of previously-unattainable objectives. The most important IT-related development in 2018 will be this focus on connectedness – connected cloud, connected edge, connected applications, connected security, conected collaboration, connected workspaces and connected insights. (Download your free white paper here)

Techaisle calls it the “Interwork platform” (as described in Techaisle's latest white paper). This refers to Techaisle’s belief that 2018 will mark a transition point at which corporate focus on developing and deploying systems that offer the capacity to connect diverse resources (the Internet platform) will be surpassed by a focus on capitalizing on the benefits of connected information, assets and users and teams – the ‘Interwork platform’ - to deliver on the four pillars of digital transformation: operational efficiency, customer intimacy, employee empowerment and innovation.


In the early 1970s, computer science pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert E. Kahn developed the networking protocol TCP/IP – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol – which enabled interconnections between networks to form a ‘network of networks’. Fifteen years later, in 1989, Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web, allowing browsers to follow hypertext links to far-flung resources. The Web was released to the general public in August 1991 – and businesses and individuals around the world have spent more than 25 years developing a vast array of content, process and interactive capabilities that are set within and rely on the network of networks.

Techaisle’s position is that from the perspective of the technology world, 2018 – and quite possibly, several years following 2018 – will be defined by the benefits arising from the interconnection of all types of resources: platforms/environments, information, devices and applications. With the connective fabric now (or rapidly becoming) ubiquitous, businesses of all types and sizes will move beyond a focus on network access, and concentrate instead on using Interwork technologies to drive progress across the four pillars of digital transformation: operational efficiency, customer intimacy, employee empowerment and product innovation.

Techaisle’s recent point-of-view on the Interwork platform highlights seven key areas and trends playing out across seven key technology areas:

  1. Connected cloud, which provides the foundation for Interwork, the bedrock on which Interwork platforms are built
  2. Connected edge, which completes that foundation and will work with connected cloud to deliver the ‘yin and yang’ of the Interwork platform’s infrastructure
  3. Connected applications, that represent the best path forward for corporate workloads and processes – and represent a critical component of the Interwork platform
  4. Connected security, is an essential property of the Interwork platform as security strategies no longer resemble a ‘wrapper’ around assets
  5. Connected collaboration, as it becomes part of the fabric of business activity, rather than as a means of enabling connections between discrete tasks
  6. Connected workspaces, which draw together assets and users, delivering increased benefit within each category while simultaneously extending and strengthening the core of the Interwork platform; and
  7. Connected insights, the information gained/accessed through the platform, which enables businesses to address constantly-advancing expectations for speed (of operational decisions) and completeness (of strategic decisions).

techaisle interwork platform description resized

Business and IT executives who are able to grasp the benefits associated with these seven key areas – and who are able to profit from the points at which multiple connected business resources combine to build the broader Interwork platforms – will emerge as leaders in and beyond 2018. Their organizations will participate in shaping rapidly-evolving business and consumer expectations for responsiveness and agility. Businesses that capitalize on Interwork capabilities will capture preferred positions within their markets, and within the millennial labor pool that defines a key area of near-term competition.

There are many powerful rationales for investing in each of the seven components of an Interwork platform, and as Techaisle's white paper demonstrates, each component in turn delivers greater value when it is connected with the other links in the Interwork chain.

Download your free white paper here

 

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