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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.

Midmarket digital transformation – Aspiration versus Implementation

In 2018, 41 percent of US midmarket firms had set their ambitions on a “Holistic” digital transformation strategy, meaning that these firms believed that Internet and digital technologies impacted every aspect of their business and should be a core part of their organizational strategy. In 2019, midmarket firms have tempered their ambitions and only 27 percent believe in holistic strategy. Nevertheless, the percent of midmarket firms with “Inclusive” digital transformation has remained unchanged at 43 percent. These firms believe that digital transformation while important is still a subset of strategic planning but not seen as critical business-wide. Both the 2018 and 2019 surveys were conducted with 876 midmarket firms.

Good news is that 17 percent of midmarket firms have either completed or have substantially completed their digital transformation journey. Another 46 percent are focusing on digitally transforming their businesses in the next 1-2 years. Highest planned adoption at 41 percent is coming from high-growth midmarket firms.

So what changed in the last 1-2 years?

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Techaisle data reveals SMBs regressing in their cloud security adoption

Techaisle’s 2019 US SMB and Midmarket Security solutions adoption trends survey research indicates that 55 percent of US SMBs suffered a security incident in the last one year. 20 percent of SMBs reported but as high as 70 percent did not formally report yet experienced PC security & data theft breaches in the last one year. In many ways data suggests that SMBs are regressing in their adoption of security solutions to protect their corporate and mobile environments. For example, in the 2019 study, 32 percent of SMBs believe that their IT security budgets are sufficient to meet their needs, which is substantially down from 43 percent in 2017 and 22 percent assert that they are better prepared than others when it comes to IT security, considerably lower than 32 percent in 2017. Even the presence of formal security protocols in case of a breach and/or security incident has gone down from being present in 34 percent of SMBs in 2017 to 26 percent in 2019. However, the belief that cloud usage/services puts them at a higher risk of a data breach has remained virtually unchanged from 40 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2019. To make a fair trend comparison Techaisle surveyed same number of SMBs in 2017 and 2019 with exactly same quota sampling.

It is not that SMBs are not concerned about security risks. Cloud security is the top IT challenge in 34 percent of small businesses and 42 percent of midmarket firms. 41 percent of SMBs feel vulnerable in the cloud and 34 percent worry about cyber-attacks and 39 percent consider password compromise to be a security risk to their business.

A review of cloud security threats to SMBs illustrates the fact that while cloud brings unique challenges. Data highlights many different points of security exposure that arise when applications, data and access extend outside the corporate facility. 38 percent of SMB survey respondents are concerned with data exposure during transfers to remote locations, 37 percent are concerned with the potential for cloud-based accounts to be hijacked. Similarly, other concerns are unauthorized access to or breaches of data repositories in the cloud, insecure interfaces used to access cloud-based systems, the potential for insiders within a cloud service provider to exfiltrate information, and denial of service (DDoS) attacks – all of which represent cloud-specific threats.

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Techaisle data shows channel transformation has been challenging and split in the middle

Channel is okay. Channel is not okay. The answer depends upon whose perspective you listen to, how they define channels and how they are measuring channel transformation. Techaisle studied 814 US channel partners with revenue ranging from US$500K to US$50M and number of employees from 9 to 1200. Measured against 12 points of Techaisle’s channel transformation imperatives, only 5 percent of partners are nearing completion of their transformation journey. Data also shows that the channel transformation is split right in the middle. 52 percent of partners are transformation followers and 48 percent are transformation leaders. 45 percent of partners are in initial stages of transformation working on an average of 5.3 of the 12 imperatives.

Most vendors including Microsoft, SAP, IBM, Cisco and distributors such as Ingram Micro are focusing their efforts in helping their partners transform their business models but the channel has been slow to adapt to rapidly changing environment.

Let us discuss three areas that are priorities for IT suppliers, where channel is falling short and what is Techaisle’s recommended transformation timeline.

  1. Transforming from "sales quotas" to "book of business" - whole customer
  2. Transforming from "value addition" to "value creation", - business performance
  3. Transforming from "lead generation" to digital discovery" - reducing reliance
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Google Anthos - a big deal for the midmarket - if a partner strategy emerges

Today, at Cloud Next 2019 in San Francisco, Google’s annual industry conference, Google announced its Cloud Services Platform, Anthos, for managing hybrid clouds that span on-premise and cloud data centers, and across multi-cloud environments. It is a big deal. It uses Kubernetes to enable migration across environments, is hardware agnostic, supports Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, and is subscription-based with a starting list price of $10,000/month per 100 vCPU block.

There is a thought that Anthos is a shot across the bows of AWS and Azure – and certainly, an approach that abstracts functionality from underlying cloud architecture will impinge on the ‘data gravity’ customer retention approach being used by these vendors. But IBM is at risk with Anthos as well, as the positive reception of its recent Red Hat acquisition is rooted in the promise of a single-vendor approach to providing hybrid and multi-cloud management and orchestration capabilities.

Clearly, Anthos has been developed with large enterprises as the target segment; some enterprise accounts are already early beta customers. To ease the addition of cloud as a core infrastructure platform in these accounts (by simplifying migration across in-premise and cloud environments) Google introduced Anthos Migrate, a service which will auto-migrate VMs from on-premise or other clouds into containers in the Google Kubernetes Engine.

It’s important to note, though, that hybrid cloud management is not only a point of pain within enterprise customers – it is a challenge (and arguably, a more acute issue) within midmarket (100-999 employees) firms. Consider these stats from Techaisle study of 510 US midmarket firms:

  • 52% of midmarket firms are using multi-cloud
  • 45% of midmarket firms have hybrid cloud environments
  • 38% of midmarket firms are using multiple public cloud providers for IaaS and PaaS
  • 27% of midmarket firms are planning to adopt G-Suite
  • 25% of midmarket firms are challenged by how to migrate from one cloud platform to another
  • 18% of midmarket cloud workloads are on hybrid clouds

Data for Europe and Asia/Pacific also very interesting current and planned adoption percentages for hybrid/multi-cloud.

The multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud journey began within midmarket firms much before it became fashionable within enterprises.

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