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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.

Techaisle data shows 41 percent of global SMBs unsure about the next decade

It was once thought that the cloud would reduce the technology deficit SMBs face relative to larger firms – but it is difficult to say that this has proved to be the case. Indeed, the cloud has lowered the barriers to adopting new systems, giving SMBs access to applications and infrastructure resources that would have been well beyond their means five years ago. However, Techaisle’s SMB and Midmarket Cloud adoption trends research data show that cloud, and hybrid IT, has posed other challenges: difficulties in integrating systems with each other and with business processes, and in integrating data across applications (ensuring that data created by one application is input automatically into others); difficulty in securing systems that are based in multiple locations and managed by various organizations, each with their own set of operational rules; difficulty in applying appropriate levels of security and governance to an ever-expanding pool of data that moves at accelerating pace through an ever-more-complex constellation of systems, users and locations. Large organizations have IT teams dedicated to addressing specific issues within this shifting and complex set of requirements. SMBs rely on limited internal resources (often, small groups of generalists), supplemented by fractional headcount support from third-party channel members, to keep pace with the change that results from the constant advance of cloud and hybrid.

Despite these challenges, though, evidence suggests enormous scope for cloud growth in the global SMB segment. Data indicates an apparent leader/laggard dichotomy between midmarket and small businesses concerning IT-enabled innovation. Over 20% of midmarket firms have internal teams dedicated to “finding ‘what’s next?’ technology-driven innovations,” and 40% “have IT budgets specifically for technology-driven innovation;” 11% report that they have embedded IT professionals charged with finding innovations into business units. Small businesses are, on average, about half as likely to have taken these steps; instead, nearly half of firms with 1-99 employees state that their organizations do not expect IT to drive innovation actively.” Making the assumptions that a) midmarket firms will benefit from the express linkage of IT and innovation, and b) that the gap between large enterprises and midmarket firms is likely as significant as the delta between midmarket and small business. Additionally, large enterprises will, over time, capture IT-enabled business innovation benefits even more rapidly than midmarket competitors. Data illustrates the foundations of a cascade, where IT-enabled innovation drives business success and further cloud investments in larger firms, defining success patterns that small organizations then adopt.

The findings also expose the uncertainty that SMBs face as they structure their IT/business strategies. The most significant proportion of SMBs – 42% of small businesses and 32% of midmarket firms – state that they are unsure of what the next 10-15 years will look like for their industry. Other SMBs worry about their ability to cope with the pace of change: an average of about 25% of SMBs report that they “are struggling to keep up with the pace of change,” and nearly 20% state that they “do not know if they will be able to complete over the next decade.” Against this backdrop, a cadre of forward-looking organizations – 15% of small businesses, roughly a quarter of midmarket firms – “are battling barriers to become a digital business by 2030.” The successes that these firms realize over the next several years will increase their appetite for further cloud investments and encourage their peers to commit additional resources to cloud-based business initiatives. Techaisle expects that if and as these digital leaders realize tangible benefits from cloud and hybrid, the cloud will become an essential element of SMB business operations. As a result, SMBs will become a significant force in the cloud market. Moreover, suppliers to the SMB market and the SMBs themselves can align to bring about this positive change. Techaisle believes that mutual benefit will drive commitment and innovation on both the supply and demand side of the cloud equation.

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WW SMB customer-facing cloud applications adoption driving digitalization

Customer intimacy matters to SMBs. It is also a challenge. As per Techaisle's study of N=5505 SMBs in the US, Europe, Asia/Pacific, and Latin America, 77% of SMBs say that their business success depends upon a strong relationship with their customers, providing goods and services highly customized to their needs, and being responsive to their needs. Three facts stand out – customer relationship, customized delivery, and responsiveness. And neither of the three can be achieved without the use of relevant technology.

Every SMBs' survival is dependent upon customers. At the start of the year, Techaisle had predicted that 2020 would see a ground-breaking year when customer intimacy (acquisition, retention, experience & satisfaction) will drive IT adoption and business process evolution. We had said that by the end of 2020, for 45% of SMBs, the need for customer intimacy will drive digital transformation, and 76% of new SaaS adoption will be customer-focused. As a result of the investments, 15% of small businesses and 24% of midmarket firms will have a top-notch customer-facing digital presence. Pandemic has surpassed the predictions.

Recent global SMB research from Techaisle shows that within US small businesses, customer-focused SaaS business application adoption is likely to increase by 49% in 2020, rising by another 33% in 2021. Similarly, within the US midmarket firms, the adoption is expected to reach 82% in 2020, with another 74% planning to add adjacent customer-focused applications in 2021. Europe SMB research shows similar trends. 58% of European small businesses are adopting customer-focused SaaS applications in 2020, which will increase to 77% in 2021.

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Global SMB and midmarket digitalization appetite fast-tracking deeper use of SaaS

Global SMB SaaS survey adoption data shows that 68% are already using more than 5 SaaS categories with numerous SaaS applications in each category. SMBs’ immediate and long-term plans (spanning 6 months – 1 year) shows that 80% are planning to expand their scope of SaaS adoption and may likely add applications in 5 to 10 SaaS categories.

The increase in SaaS adoption will result in US$76B in global SMB SaaS spend in 2021. Despite the pandemic, due to more reasons than one can imagine, global survey data of 4700 SMBs shows that the year 2020 will see SaaS spend growth of 19% over 2019. Asia/Pacific and Western Europe regions will see the largest adoption and spend growth rates as compared to the US.

The increase in SaaS spend and adoption is fueled by acceleration in customer-focused, vertical/line-of-business applications, productivity and collaboration applications. By far, the biggest adoption jump is and will be in the vertical-focused apps - a reason why Microsoft in its latest Inspire event made a case for partners to increase their marketing and deployment initiatives for vertical/line-of-business SaaS applications.

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Prologue and Epilogue of Digitalization in SMB Market

Every year or two (or three), a new trend sweeps the IT industry, and breathless coverage asserts that the new phenomenon has arrived fully-shaped to transform technology and/or IT’s role in business strategy. This is, of course, very rarely true. Most trends play out over a long time, and change in technology tends to be incremental rather than revolutionary. For example – it is certainly true that digitalization (and digital transformation) are important issues today, and that they will have a transformative effect on IT and business strategy. But Techaisle research demonstrates, they are a recent highlight in a series of business issues and technology themes that stretch back at least 15 years, from 2003 to 2019.

Key SMB and Midmarket digitalization themes, 2003-2020

techaisle smb digitalization themes

techaisle wp prologue epilogue resized

As we enter the next decade, it seems that online capabilities and activities are entering a new era. There are still advances to be made in the ‘net’ realm: there is constant pressure to expand the speed of the Internet, enabling it to handle the voracious demands of unstructured content like video, and the rise of IoT and 5G portends a coming tsunami of data from billions of connected devices. However, the key focus of web-based business investment is now less about the ‘net’ and more about the ‘work’: the ways that an increasingly-connected world supports pursuit of previously-unattainable objectives. The most important IT-related development in 2020 will be this focus on connectedness – connected cloud, edge, applications, security, collaboration, workspaces and insights. Internet and the web are the navigation routes that we have been developing since the 1970s; the always-on, everywhere-connected Interwork© platform is the destination that we will be creating in 2020 and for years to come.

This eBook has been written to provide guidance to supply-side management responsible for digitalization strategies that affect sales and marketing of advanced IT solutions to SMBs and midmarket firms. The document is structured into six sections:

  1. What’s past is prologue – The Path to Digitalization
  2. Closing the gap between business priorities and IT challenges and the rise of digital
  3. Business Issues over the years – paving the route to digital transformation
  4. The rise of innovation – and digital – as a business focus
  5. IT challenges over the years – paving the route to digital transformation
  6. What’s future is epilogue: Connected Business

Download the free eBook here

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