2018 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges


    Global SMB and Channel Partner Market Research Organization


    US Midmarket Digital Transformation Trends


    US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption Trends


    US technology adoption trends by SMB IT sophistication


    Understanding SMB & Midmarket Buyers Journey


    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket Mobility Adoption Trends


    SMB & Midmarket IoT Adoption Trends


    SMB Data You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon
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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.

SMB & Midmarket IT challenges in supporting mobile workforce

If the “office” is defined by devices then “workplace” is defined by the ability to work from wherever those devices (and their users) are located. In this vein, “work” typically includes a requirement to access corporate data with mobile devices.

Data from the Techaisle 2015 SMB Mobility Adoption and Trends survey finds that more than 80% of small business employees and 55% of workers in midmarket firms require mobile access to company data. Providing this access and the applications, devices and solutions represents an enormous investment for SMBs that are typically very conservative in their IT budget allocations.


By more than a 2:1 ratio, SMB respondents believe that mobility is a means of driving growth in the business. But mobility does not deliver business benefits painlessly. The introduction of mobility solutions has created new issues for IT management, and suppliers who can help to address these issues will gain favor in this community.

Addressing the needs of the “dual mode” user is a non-trivial issue. In the Techaisle survey, both small and midmarket firms report that users access a combination of business and personal resources via their business-connected (both corporate-owned and BYOD) mobile devices. This reinforces the importance of some of the solutions being currently used or planning to be used by SMBs. These are solutions that help manage mobile devices that deliver access to corporate information without downloading data and applications themselves (such as thin clients and Windows-as-a-Service) and methods of securing data when it is exchanged between mobile devices and external users and where users themselves move seamlessly between corporate and personal usage modes on devices that are connected to corporate networks.

Mobile devices are an essential component of mobility but mobility itself extends beyond hardware to applications, solutions and work habits. Techaisle’s 2015 SMB Mobility Adoption Trends research shows that the “dual mode” SMB user represents a specific problem for SMB IT staff and the challenges of supporting a mobile workforce go well beyond the device.


Small and midsized businesses have different challenges in supporting the mobile workforce

Looking first at the small businesses, we see that managing TCO – which includes, in addition to typical IT expenses, service charges that are unique to mobile devices – is rated as the most significant challenge by small business respondents. These firms also struggle with the “on ramps” to mobility: finding appropriate suppliers and solutions and integrating multiple screens are also ranked in the top five challenges encountered by 1-99 employee firms in support of the mobile workforce.


Midmarket firms also count TCO as their most significant challenge. Rather than struggling with mobility on ramps, though, midmarket firms are more concerned with security/data protection and mobile management. Network security, protecting corporate data on mobile devices and managing these devices are all top-five mobility challenges for midmarket IT – and further evidence of why mobility solutions addressing these issues are essential to this community.


Manageability drives SMB mobility solution supplier evaluation, especially in Midmarket

Techaisle’s 2015 SMB and Midmarket Mobility Adoption study shows that to emerge as leaders in the mobility solution market, suppliers will need to tailor their offerings and strategies to specific clusters within the SMB market. Successful suppliers will need to be cognizant of, and visible in addressing, key SMB selection criteria.

Figure below presents an analysis of SMB mobility solution evaluation criteria, tied to the attitudinal groups used for SMB segmentation analysis. This segmentation and perspective highlights how increased sophistication changes the requirements that SMB users have of suppliers.


Small Business Segments
Within the small businesses, the Pre-IT segment is looking first and foremost for a trusted brand. These small business buyers opt for horizontal suppliers for their first step into mobility solutions. Data from other segments suggests that increasing sophistication leads to more exacting expectations.

Basic IT buyers are looking for help with managing BYOD and for effective customer support, while Advanced IT buyers look for assurances of information security, for manageability, and for suppliers’ credible brands.

Midmarket segments
“Manageability” is the most essential attribute for suppliers targeting midmarket firms. The basic IT segment is looking for assistance in supporting a large number of mobile platforms as a means of dealing with the BYOD needs of a larger (relative to small business) workforce, and/or as a means of supporting customer access to public systems.

The midmarket Advanced IT group, like its small business peers, requires a combination of manageability and information security, and adds customer support and the requirement for multi-device/platform support.

The enterprise IT group –the largest spenders represented in this chart – have a few unique requirements. This group demands interoperability and customizability as it seeks to integrate mobility solutions within the broader IT infrastructure, and looks as well for ease of use as it rolls out mobility solutions to a (relatively) large and diverse workforce. Techaisle expects that over time, an increasing number of SMBs will pursue these capabilities as they, too, tie mobility into their overall IT/business architectures.



Forget apps, SMBs increasing adoption of mobility management solutions

Techaisle’s 2015 SMB and Midmarket Mobility Solutions Adoption study shows that the trend towards increased diversity and sophistication of mobile app portfolios within SMBs is driving a concurrent requirement for enterprise mobility management solutions capable of automating management, security and infrastructure associated with complex mobile portfolios.

Although much of the public debate around mobility involves hardware brands and feature sets and overall penetration rates and even BYOD (which is now passé), the real business benefit of mobility is delivered via applications that address specific task requirements within the business, and mobility management solutions that overlay the management and security structures needed to integrate these apps with corporate IT systems.

Figure below provides a snapshot of current and planned usage of mobility solutions. It shows that today, use of mobility solutions has crossed 50% in the small business segment, and that aggressive 2015 purchase plans – especially amongst 1-9 employee and 10-19 employee microbusinesses – will boost this figure closer to 80% in the near term. Initial penetration is nearly complete within midmarket enterprises, where well over 90% report current use of mobility solutions.


Focusing on Enterprise Mobility Management Solutions

Consider the perspective included in the figure below. The left-hand text box includes eight mobility application categories predicted (by the Techaisle SMB 2015 Mobility survey) to have the greatest increase in adoption in the next one year. Half of the list is comprised of advanced applications: web/video conferencing (foundational), location-enabled applications and mobile marketing and advertising (emerging technologies) and business intelligence (second-order application). The SMB mobile application portfolio is both growing explosively and becoming more complex.


The right hand side of figure highlights the top mobility management solutions that SMBs are investing in to automate control of these sprawling assets. This list includes security solutions (MDM, mobile app security, secure mobile data sharing) that address widespread concern over the exposure that accompanies mobility, as well as methods of automating management (mobile network control, enterprise mobile management) and of deploying infrastructure tuned to the needs of mobile workers (Windows-as-a-Service, thin clients). Also included on this list is email, which is in the process of making the leap from an application that is accessed remotely to an integrated solution that connects seamlessly across environments and devices – a progression that will likely occur with other applications (especially foundational applications) over time.

This link between more sophisticated mobile deployments and the need to invest in mobility solutions to provide for management, security and infrastructure is apparent in survey data outlining SMB use of and investments in mobile solutions.

However, mobility management solutions are not a “set it and forget it” type of technology. These solutions require continuous tuning and ongoing investment as their scope expands to match the burgeoning requirements of an increasingly-complex mobile environment. Techaisle 2015 SMB Mobility study data also captured expenditure levels for mobility solutions by employee size. Comparing this data and connecting the dots with Techaisle’s other data on cloud, virtualization, managed services and analytics we find that mobility drives increased IT investment, especially amongst small businesses and as a market force, mobility “grows the pie” of IT spending in the overall SMB market.

Upcoming blogs on SMB Mobility:

  • Mobility solution providers: not limited to traditional IT suppliers – VMware AirWatch, Citrix and IBM MaaS360 become important
  • What drives mobility solution supplier evaluation, especially in the midmarket?
  • What are the SMB IT challenges associated with mobile workforce support?

SMB big data adoption - from over-hype to must-have

Techaisle’s quantitative study (survey of nearly 900 SMBs) on SMB & Midmarket Big Data Adoption and Trends shows that 7 percent of small businesses and 20 percent of midmarket businesses are currently using Big Data solutions and that another 17 percent & 38 percent respectively are planning to adopt within the 1-2 years. These businesses are looking at a big data solution from 3 perspectives:

First, what are the organizational needs, second, what could be served as a solution and, third, what could be the best combination of the tools and technologies available today which will provide value add. Based on all one should decide on a solution because the Big Data space is very enormous and could be applied for any domain,” aptly quoted by CIO of a midmarket firm who has successfully implemented big data solutions in his organization.

Common findings that run through corresponding depth interviews (over 60 interviews conducted globally) conducted by Techaisle, Insights from the Trenches of SMB Big Data Implementers, are:

  • PoC – more is better, timing is of essence
  • Cost efficiencies of Hadoop, especially Cloudera
  • Plethora of tools deployment – emergence of Spark and Flume
  • On-premise only – now and the future
  • Must conduct skills training and gap analysis
  • Lessons learned – not to underestimate complexity but uniform voice – go for it

The promise of superior data-driven decision making is motivating 24 percent of US small businesses (1-99 employees) and 58 percent of midmarket businesses (100-999 employees) to invest in Big Data technology.


In addition, the possibility of analyzing a variety of data producing action-driven business insights is too big to ignore for midmarket businesses. This represents a sizable opportunity considering that the segment is relatively new, it requires a certain level of IT sophistication and a history in linear investment in information technology enablers to be successful.


Specifically, midmarket attitude towards big data has transitioned from “over-hype” to “must-have” technology with the increase in employee size. Only 11 percent of midmarket businesses consider big data to be an over hype suggesting that it has crossed the tipping point faster than similar sentiments for cloud adoption at its introduction. However, nearly one-fourth of lower mid-market businesses still consider it to be over-hyped yet 29 percent think that it will be an important part of their business decision making process.

Nevertheless, SMBs face many challenges in implementing big data solutions.


There are many different tactical objectives for deploying big data projects and SMBs are expecting some clear cut benefits from big data analytics such as increased sales, more efficient operations, and improved customer service.

CRM solutions had first established the analytics for analyzing customer data but the data was mostly two-way transactional data. This changed when customers began visiting business websites to explore, browse and perhaps make purchases thus leaving behind a trail of information. IT vendors and mid-market businesses figured out the need to analyze the data and combine it with transactional information.

However, everything changed with the onset of social media, blogs, forums and opinion platforms where the identification of false positives and negatives became difficult and knowledge about the customer and resulting segmentation became an inaccurate undertaking. Big data analytics presents the possibilities of connecting together a variety of data sets from disconnected sources to produce business insights whether for generating sales, improving products or detecting fraud. It is therefore not surprising that globally SMBs and midmarket businesses are turning towards big data analytics to analyze social media data, web data, customer and sales data along with click-stream machine generated data and even communications data in the form of emails, chat, voicemails.


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