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.

US SMB and Midmarket firms optimistic but constrained in their digitalization strategies

Techaisle's extensive and unique survey research (N=1476) on US SMB & Midmarket Digitalization trends shows a great belief in SMBs’ organizational commitment to digitalization strategies. Survey data shows more than 40% of small (10-99 employees) and midmarket (100-999 employees) businesses believe that they are “holistic” with respect to digital transformation – that within their firms, the Internet and digital technologies impact every aspect of the business and are at the core of organizational strategy. Another large proportion of the SMB population – 30% of small businesses, 43% of midmarket firms – report that their organizations are best categorized as “inclusive,” seeing digital as important to the business, but as a relatively minor factor in strategic planning, and not having organization-wide impact. Lesser proportions of both populations (20% of small, 12% mf midmarket) see themselves as ‘siloed’ with respect to digital initiatives, and less than 5% of both groups believe that their digital strategies are either ‘in the shadows’ or ‘nonexistent.’

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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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Techaisle research shows Hyperconverged Infrastructure on a high-growth trajectory within SMBs and midmarket firms

An extensive survey of US small and midmarket businesses shows that HCI adoption is poised to double within the current planning period. Techaisle’s US SMB & midmarket survey on CI/HCI adoption shows that 18% of midmarket firms are currently using hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI – systems that package compute, storage, networking, hypervisors and other system software into a single product) but more compelling is the fact that another 46% are actively investigating and planning to adopt, a 2.5X increase in adoption – significant growth over the next 12-18 months.

Within the upper midmarket firms (500-999 employee segment), the current penetration is 45% and another 38% are planning to adopt. HCI has also caught the attention of small businesses (1-99 employees) with slightly less than 1/3rd of IT mature small businesses are planning to adopt. Dell EMC XC Express, HPE HC380 and Cisco HyperFlex Systems appear as top choices within the SMB segment.

SMBs view technologies supporting HCI adoption as contributors to business growth. Techaisle’s survey data shows that the drivers of adoption, anticipated or currently realized benefits and important purchase criteria are very tightly aligned around cost, agility, scalability, operational efficiency and high availability. The SMBs that are fully committed to digital transformation are on the fastest path to adoption, as HCI is an important element of a future-ready, resource-sensitive IT approach.

Converged infrastructure solutions (which provide a hardware-centric bundling of system components) are already in widespread use with twice as many SMB firms already using; and software-defined HCI delivers even more compelling advantages (relative to conventional/siloed server, storage, networking and management technologies) than SMB buyers obtain from converged infrastructure. Some of the important benefits that SMB & midmarket buyers realize with HCI include:

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How can suppliers identify cloud partners most likely to be successful

How can cloud suppliers identify the partners most likely to be successful or very successful in selling cloud? Techaisle’s 7th year of channel tracking survey data indicates that a powerful indicator is found in the growth paths identified by channel firms.

Characteristics of very successful cloud channel partners (“what to look for”)

  • Very successful cloud channel firms view advanced solutions as major opportunities and are focused on growing business in BI/analytics and IoT
  • Very successful cloud firms recognize that hybrid IT is the key and are anticipating increased revenue from data and/or application integration than their less successful peers
  • Nearly 90% of very successful cloud channel firms (as compared with just 23% of unsuccessful firms) offer IaaS to SMB customers
  • Over 90% of very successful cloud partners offer SaaS today. Less than one-third of unsuccessful cloud partners offer SaaS, and 20% neither offer it nor are planning to do so
  • Successful cloud partners view partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships as a strategic imperative, whereas unsuccessful partners connect with other channel firms on an opportunistic basis
  • There is a clear, multi-year trend of very successful cloud channel partners differentiating themselves by selling self-branded (and supported) cloud offerings
  • There is strong evidence in data to support the notion that very successful cloud partners are focused on assembling multi-sourced solutions to meet customer needs, 57% of very success cloud partners as compared to 31% of unsuccessful and 34% of successful partners
  • Three-quarters of very successful and nearly 70% of successful cloud partners offer UCaaS, vs. just 20% of unsuccessful firms
  • Successful channel firms are actively participating in cloud and IT orchestration and are investing in technology advisory & architects
  • Digitalization & digital transformation are new focus areas of very successful channel partners

What to look out for – characteristics of unsuccessful cloud partners

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