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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.

2016 Top 10 SMB & MidMarket Business Issues, IT Challenges, IT Priorities

It is here. Techaisle's 2016 Top 10 SMB and Midmarket IT Priorities, Business Issues and IT Challenges. 

Techaisle's recently completed survey of SMBs and Mid-market companies reveals the following Top 10 IT Priorities, IT Challenges and Business Issues that the IT and Business Decision makers are facing in 2016. In its detailed global SMB and Midmarket survey Techaisle investigated 14 different technology areas and a lot more sub-technologies, 19 different IT challenges and 19 different business issues.

2016 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Challenges, IT Priorities

2016 top10 smb it priorities business issues techaisle infographics resized

 

2016 Top 10 Mid-Market Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges

2016 top10 mid market it priorities business issues techaisle infographics resized

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Look back on US SMB PC purchase intentions

Look back

As is the case in each year’s SMB research, Techaisle SMB survey respondents are asked to detail their plans for acquisition of different types of client devices. Two of the major categories investigated by the surveys are desktop PCs and notebook PCs. To establish a baseline understanding of PC use and demand, Techaisle asks SMB respondents to specify the number of endpoint devices that are currently in use within their companies, and then asks them to specify the quantity that they are planning to buy over the next twelve months. To provide actionable insight to our clients, the question asks separately about desktop PCs, notebook PCs and tablets. While 2016 survey is in the field it is worth looking at the trends of last two years. In 2014, both the US small and midmarket businesses were bullish about new desktop and notebook purchases. But in 2015, the percent of US SMBs planning to buy PCs had dropped by 40% from 2014 for both desktops and notebooks. However, although the average number units of desktops planned to purchase dropped from 2014 to 2015 the average number of notebooks planned to purchase increased substantially from 2014 to 2015.

2014-us-smb-pc-purchase-intentions-techaisle

2015-us-smb-pc-purchase-intentions-techaisle

Many desktop buyers were motivated to replace existing units because they were reaching end-of-life and take advantage of Windows XP upgrade path. Desktops are also more of a planned/budgeted item than other client form factors (notebooks, tablets), meaning that desktop acquisitions are more likely to appear in formal purchase plans than the mobile units, and less likely to be acquired on an ad hoc basis. Notebooks are usually ad hoc purchase items – meaning that they would be underrepresented in research of this sort relative to desktops. Additionally many users upgrade their notebooks over time (to replace damaged units, to get features like touchscreen, to obtain lighter or smaller products, etc.).

However, corporate purchase intentions do not provide a complete perspective on mobile device acquisitions.

Potential Impact of BYOD on US SMB PC Purchases

Figure below presents a perspective on corporate purchase plans and the impact of employee purchases of notebooks. The top two sections of the table, shaded in green, illustrate the proportion of businesses by employee size reporting desktop and/or notebook purchase intentions, and the number of units that they plan to acquire. These figures are used to prepare a “net increase” figure – the average number of new units expected to be deployed by businesses in each employee size category. These two grey sections are followed by a line of percentages, shaded in purple, which shows the ratio of corporate desktop purchases to corporate notebook acquisitions. It shows that microbusinesses with 1-9 employees are much more likely to be buying desktops than notebooks, and that other SMBs are planning to buy 25% to 99% more desktops than notebooks.

potential-impact-of-byod-on-smb-pc-purchase-intention-techaisle

The next section of the table, shaded in blue, begins with the BYOD penetration statistics that appear at the bottom of the figure. It then calculates the impact on notebook purchase intentions if this ratio is fully reflected in notebook purchases (the “at 100%” line) and if employees were to buy notebooks at half of the BYOD penetration rate (“at 50%), showing both corporate and employee purchases of these devices. These revised figures are used to calculate the desktop to notebook PC purchase proportions shown in the second set of purple-shaded cells. Here, we see that if employee purchases of notebooks are equivalent to current BYOD penetration levels, new notebook units would be about equal to new desktop purchases in most employee size segments, while a 50% scenario would result in ratios ranging from about 1:1 to 1:6 in all but the smallest employee size category.

 

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On SMB MSP & Cloud Channel Challenges

On 7th January, Harry Brelsford, Founder, SMBNation had a Q&A webinar with Techaisle on the challenges of SMB-focused MSPs and cloud channel partners. Given below are his questions and Techaisle’s responses.

Harry: Referring to this blog SMB IT Channel has reached an inflection point can you better define “inflection point?” does that mean a tipping point before collapse or a pivot?

Anurag: It is a pivot not a collapse – “one stop solution shop” is dying as each of cloud, mobility, managed services and CI/virtualization gets too complex for generalists to manage. The IT channel is changing, permanently and in ways that are entirely different from what we have seen in the past. In the same way that “cloud” refers to a very wide range of very different IT models and deployments, “the channel” is becoming a generic phrase that describes a set of business approaches that is increasingly specialized and fragmented. The areas that I just mentioned – cloud, mobility, managed services, virtualization - today, there is substantial overlap across these categories – but it is our belief that over time, success in any one of these areas will require discrete focus and investment, reducing opportunity for equal success in/focus on other competencies.

Harry: I like how you provide historical context – the comment you made regarding a market defined by the adoption of a particular type of technology (e.g. small Business Server (SBS)) is a point well taken by this crowd. But I’m not sure I’m seeing a cult-like community emerge around any particular cloud product (e.g. Office 365). Would you agree?

Anurag: Talking from a channel POV, agreed. If there is a cult growing, it is around Hybrid IT; possible that Cloud Broker business model will get to this level as well. SMB organizations will accept the notion that their focus on cloud needs to evolve into a focus on hybrid IT, as firms realize that their platforms and management scope must encompass on and off-premise systems. Truth of the matter is that Office365 also disintermediates the channel. There is no stopping an organization from going directly to Microsoft and purchasing and installing Office 365 as opposed to using SBS from a channel partner in the past. It is a classic cloud vs. on-premise conundrum. The ecosystem should evolve but it will evolve around integration of data and applications.

Harry: Along those lines, I just had a conversation that I’m not seeing the same ecosystem building up around a cloud product or service. For example, we’d like to take credit that SBS really helped build Trend Micro and today it’s a $1b company. But I’m not seeing these add-ons in the same way with Office 365. The only thing I can point to are a few SharePoint snap-ins and a few tools (migrations, etc.). Do you agree or disagree?

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Mobile App Adoption exploding within SMBs and Midmarket Businesses

Data drawn from the Techaisle SMB mobility survey shows that SMBs will go from a current average of 7 types of mobility applications in use to 14 in about a year. This 100%-ish growth pattern is demonstrated across most employee size segments.

When we overlay business size with Techaisle’s attitudinally-defined segments of “Pre-IT,” “Basic IT,” “Advanced IT” and “Enterprise IT,” some differences in app adoption emerge. Businesses in the “Pre-IT” segment (found only in the small business group) are currently using only 3 types of mobile apps, versus 7 type of mobile apps in use in each of the “Basic IT: Small Business” and “Advanced IT: Small Business” segments.

This same trend is visible across the three attitudinally-defined midmarket segments. “Basic IT” firms in the midmarket segment are using only 4 types of mobile apps, and planning to add 5 more; both figures are below the adoption rates seen in Basic IT in the small business community.

The more sophisticated segments, though, are adopting mobile applications much more rapidly. The Advanced IT: Midmarket group uses an average of 8 different types of mobile applications today, and is planning to add 6 more in in the next one year, figures that tie very closely to Advanced IT users in the small business community. And the Enterprise IT segment found only within midmarket firms is even more aggressive in mobile app deployment; these firms already use mobile applications in an average of 11 types of apps, and are planning to deploy 9 more.

Mobile applications: scope for growth in core apps and in other categories

The Techaisle SMB mobility adoption survey tracks 20 types of mobile applications. Although there is always overlap between different feature sets and application types, its possible – and useful – to group these into four categories:

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