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2019 Top 10 SMB and Midmarket business issues-challenges-priorities

Techaisle has released its annual research infographics on top 10 IT priorities, business issues and IT challenges of SMBs (1-999 employees), midmarket firms (100-999 employees) and small businesses (1-99 employees) for 2019. In its detailed SMB survey Techaisle investigated 21 different technology areas and several technology sub-categories, 23 different IT challenges and 21 different business issues. This is the 9th year of Techaisle’s annual survey research initiative that probes for top business issues, IT priorities and IT challenges. Tracking history provides a fascinating evolution in which new business goals drive new IT priorities and uncover challenges that must be addressed to enable progress on business objectives.

Primary research was conducted among senior IT and business decision makers from Techaisle network of 1.2M B2B IT professionals spread across 30+ countries.

There are some interesting differences in IT priorities as compared to 2018. IoT and VR/AR fell below top 10 (but still within top 15) and replaced by Voice/Digital assistants as well as Open source solutions. Across all regions (US, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America) digital unified workspace and software-defined are becoming a priority for both SMBs and midmarket firms. Security many places within the top 10 IT challenges in different forms – cloud security, mobile device security, data protection/recovery/business continuity – with Cloud security as the top IT challenge.

Global SMB & Midmarket IT spend (excluding telecom services) in 2019 is projected to be US$665B and corresponding cloud spend is expected to be US$115B. Research also found that IT budget growths in 2019 will be the highest in Asia/Pacific (6.2%) and lowest in Latin America (1.8%). While IT budget constraint is not the top challenge within SMBs in the US and Asia/Pacific, it is the top concern in Latin America.

Managing data growth is continuing to pose challenge for SMBs and when probed further Techaisle research found that only 11% of SMBs and 29% of midmarket firms have evidence-driven culture with data-driven decision-making business processes in which data defines requirements or opportunities and management then determines the best option for moving forward. In the US, 17% of small business and 34% of midmarket firms consider themselves to be innovative.

2019 Top 10 SMB business issues, IT priorities, IT challenges

2019 top10 smb it priorities business issues techaisle infographics low res

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Digital transformation and customer intimacy in modern midmarket – 3rd pillar of DX

A Techaisle survey of nearly 900 midmarket firms in the US found that 41% of midmarket firms believe digital technologies impact every aspect of the business and are a core part of organizational strategy and more than one-third of midmarket businesses – 34% - believe that digital transformation is a key to customer intimacy. Executives are surrounded by examples of organizations that are using data – drawn from integrated internal systems, or from social media, or from far-flung sensors, or from third party services, or from a mix of all of these sources – to improve the key operating parameters of their businesses. Midmarket firms anticipate 21% improvement in upsell/cross-sell, 20% improvement in brand image and 19% improvement in customer satisfaction as outcomes of a successful DX strategy.

DX-enabled organizations generate more revenue from cross-sell/upsell; they have greater customer loyalty; they are able to open new markets and introduce new products and services faster and with better payback periods. And they do this through customer intimacy – by better understanding what their clients want and need, and by being agile in responding to these wants and needs. Techaisle research finds, in fact, that performance metrics that are tied to customer intimacy – improved upsell/cross-sell of products, improved brand image, and better customer satisfaction and retention – are the areas expected to improve the most as a result of digital transformation in the organization.

The constraints
Building customer intimacy is a little bit like making Baked Alaska: the promise is delicious, but the method is mysterious. With Baked Alaska, it’s the notion that ice cream can emerge from an oven unmelted. With customer intimacy, it’s the mystery of how to successfully aggregate data and integrate it with customer-facing activities.

techaisle digital transformation 3 2

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SMB and Midmarket IT maturity segments – cloud adoption challenges

Techaisle’s SMB & Midmarket IT maturity segmentation reveals that 52% of midmarket firms and 16% of small businesses (down from 31% two years ago) belong to Advanced IT segment and 37% of midmarket firms (up from 14% two years ago) and 0% of small businesses are in the Enterprise IT segment.

IT products are often described as having ‘a market’ – but ‘the’ IT market is comprised of many segments, each of which has its own approach to IT adoption. Some industry sectors (e.g., aerospace) tend to move faster than others (e.g., retail) and different countries and regions invest in new technologies at different rates. Until they are supplanted by new solutions, mature IT products are acquired at about the same rate by all buyers. These technologies generate the majority of ‘run rate’ revenue in the IT industry. When IT industry growth opportunities are discussed, the focus often turns to earlier-stage technologies. Sellers of these technologies tend to focus on advanced segments (large accounts, particularly in leading-edge industries). SMBs are generally viewed as a secondary market.

Four IT Maturity Segments

However, the SMB market is not a monolith. Techaisle research has identified four attitudinal/behavioral segments that have different approaches to IT adoption. Suppliers who understand the scope and characteristics of these segments are able to expand their target markets and develop strategies geared to reaching high-potential SMB prospects. These suppliers ultimately have access to an expanded TAM, and have the insight needed to align marketing investments with priority customers.

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Techaisle Take – HPE vs Dell SMB IT solution stack

Comparing Dell and HPE offerings and ecosystems against the Techaisle SMB IT solution stack model

Techaisle’s latest report is designed to help SMB buyers and suppliers identify IT stack requirements, and to compare the offerings and ecosystems of the two current market leaders, Dell and HPE, against Techaisle’s definition of essential SMB & midmarket business technologies. The report is structured in three parts:

  • The IT stack: the report begins by outlining the technologies that SMBs require – and require integration across – in order to support current and emerging business requirements
  • Vendor comparison: an evaluation of Dell and HPE offerings, including core products, non-core products and partner-delivered capabilities, against the stack requirements
  • Evaluating stack suppliers: advice on how to use the stack comparison, and additional Techaisle research findings, to evaluate Dell and HPE strengths
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