• FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC

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    2021 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges
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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.

2015 Top 10 SMB & MidMarket Business Issues, IT Challenges, IT Priorities

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 2015. For the first time in many years the top SMB business issue is Increasing Profitability. This is followed by Increasing Business Growth and Reducing Operating Costs.

For the midmarket businesses Reducing Operating Costs is the top business issue for 2015 followed by Increasing Profitability and Increasing Business Growth. Also appearing for the for the first time in 2015, Managing Uncertainty is among the top ten business issues for both small and midmarket businesses.

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Techaisle Take on Ten IT Vendors in 2014, Key Questions for 2015

Dell

The year 2014 belonged to Dell with its end-to-end solution portfolio, post-privatization enthusiasm and channel momentum. In 2015 Dell will have to accelerate its market penetration with converged infrastructure, cloud client computing, security and new IT services offerings.

• Key question: Can Dell align its "breadth" capabilities with the "depth" required to position, deploy and support an increasingly-complex portfolio – and can it do so at scale?

IBM

IBM began to regain its lost glory in 2014 with rapid-fire Cloud announcements – SoftLayer, Cloudant, Bluemix, Watson analytics, Verse and Cloud Marketplace. IBM is in the best position to cement its place at the CIO table with its Cloud offerings. In 2015, IBM's biggest challenges will be to make all offerings work together instead of "ticking all boxes". Its GBS (Global Business Services) group has to announce bite-sized packaged services solutions, analytical services and performance-based pricing to disrupt the market.

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Increasing role of BDMs in SMB Cloud and Mobility Security Management

Techaisle’s recently completed study on SMB IT Decision Making Authority: ITDM vs. BDM, examining the balance in SMB IT decision making authority between IT decision makers (ITDMs) and business decision makers (BDMs)  shows that BDMs are becoming increasingly involved in SMB cloud and security management processes. In 76 percent of SMBs BDMs have active roles in cloud security and in a whopping 87 percent of SMBs they are active in mobility security management.

Techaisle’s SMB IT Decision Making Authority: ITDM vs. BDM report provides data to substantiate a common theme: business management is taking a more active role in IT acquisition, deployment and management. This is especially true in cloud and mobility as BDMs are able to directly procure systems that support their business needs (such as CRM systems used by sales management) – avoiding IT’s processes and timeframe for deployment, and in some cases, avoiding input from IT altogether.

When we speak to ITDMs or IT suppliers who work with IT managers we are often exposed to the counter-argument against this newfound BDM freedom: that without effective IT oversight, cloud systems can become disconnected from the corporate IT infrastructure, creating silos of data, and potentially, security, audit, compliance and privacy risks.

To obtain insight into this issue, Techaisle asked survey respondents to identify who (by area of responsibility) has primary responsibility in each of 10 cloud security areas and 12 mobility security areas. Looking across both groups, we see at a glance that in both the small and mid-sized businesses business management is viewed as a source of access policy but the management of the security process is largely the preserve of IT.

Comparing Cloud and Mobility Security Management

The study shows that there are three key players in managing cloud and mobility security within SMB organizations – Business Management, IT Management and Service Providers. Business management involvement is higher than IT management in mobility security, 87 percent vs. 68 percent. Drilling down into the data we find that SMB BDMs take an active role in five out of twelve mobility security areas and have primary responsibility in seven security areas.

On the other hand, SMB BDM involvement in cloud security management is 76 percent which is almost same as ITDM at 78 percent. But unlike mobility security management, BDMs are actively involved in three cloud security areas and have primary responsibility in only one security area.

Within the mid-market businesses, IT management has a higher percent of involvement than business management for both mobility and cloud security administration. ITDMs actively participate in five of twelve mobility security areas and five of ten cloud security areas.

The above data does not imply that BDMs and ITDMs are not involved in all security management areas; in fact, they are but the roles and responsibilities shuttle between the two principle SMB custodians.

Comparing Small and Mid-market Businesses for Cloud security management

Drilling down into the cloud security management process only, the data reveals that BDMs are responsible for setting access policy in over 60 percent of cases – but all other steps in the process are primarily the responsibility of IT but with involvement from BDMs, from user authentication to ensuring consistency with audit, regulatory and compliance requirements and to ensuring that backup is regular, effective and testing.

When we turn our attention to the mid-market businesses, the first finding that leaps out at us is the more prominent role played by business management. In nine of the ten cloud security activities covered in the survey, medium business respondents report more non-IT management involvement than their small business peers – and in one step in the cloud security process (ensuring consistency with audit, regulatory and compliance requirements) medium business BDMs have similar level of responsibility as ITDMs.

Role of Service Provider in Securing SMB Cloud and Mobility solution deployments

Survey data presents a very interesting dichotomy about the role of service providers in securing SMB cloud and mobility solution deployments. Service providers are involved in 47 percent of SMBs for cloud security which is 35 percent higher than their involvement in mobility security. But for mid-market businesses they are 50 percent more involved in mobility security than cloud security. Out of the twelve areas, key roles played by service providers for mobility security are “Authenticating user identities” and “Deploying and updating malware and other security technologies on corporate-owned endpoint devices”. Within the ten different cloud security areas, service providers are most involved in “Safeguarding against unauthorized access” and “Authenticating user identities”.

It is interesting to note that both small and mid-sized businesses rely on cloud suppliers through the security process – interesting primarily because (as the saying goes) “you can’t outsource responsibility”. SMBs are free to rely on cloud suppliers for assistance through the cloud security process, but if/where there are breaches or other issues, the responsibility still rests with the business, not with the supplier. Techaisle believes that the proportion of SMBs –both small and medium businesses – who report that their cloud suppliers have responsibility for one or more cloud security activities should take a closer look at whether and how they might separate responsibility (which is a management requirement) from delivery (which may well be best outsourced to a cloud vendor). Here again, SMBs require guidance from security specialists to align practices with requirements.

Details about the report can be found here

Related research:

2014 SMB & Mid-Market Cloud Computing Adoption Trends

2014 SMB & Mid-Market Mobility Solutions Adoption & Trends

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SMB Cloud Computing - Seven Key Trends

It is stunning to see how much corporate IT realities have changed in the last five years. Today, an increasing proportion of infrastructure is rented rather than purchased, sourced with OPEX funds from remote suppliers. Agility has become the watchword for new automation projects, and acceptable timeframes are no longer calibrated in months. End-users can source applications, infrastructure and other needed services from a wide variety of online resources. And workers are tethered to the corporate infrastructure by their smartphones and tablets, not by the cables attached to their desks.

Most of these changes are attributable in part or in whole to cloud computing. Cloud infrastructure provides the basis for OPEX-based, flexible-timeframe infrastructure rentals. SaaS providers are able to deploy new automation in hours rather than months. Mobility is not really a discrete initiative so much as it is a key attribute of ubiquitous infrastructure. And IT now competes for corporate IT influence and budgets – it is no longer the “final word” on IT/business solution strategies.

Spurred by these changes, Techaisle conducted a unique survey of SMBs. To better reflect the reality of distributed IT influence and authority, we surveyed roughly equal numbers of business decision makers (BDMs) and IT decision makers (ITDMs), asking both groups to provide a “360° perspective” on the critical IT/business trends within their organizations. Key findings from the cloud adoption research included:

  1. Why is cloud being used by SMBs: In many organizations, cloud may have first been introduced as a means of reducing CAPEX and/or overall IT costs, but today, it is viewed by SMBs as a means of increasing business agility and of introducing capabilities that would have been cost or time-prohibitive to deploy on traditional technology. Companies in the “middle” of the SMB market – those with 50-250 employees – emphasize the ability of cloud to make IT staff more productive, while smaller and larger organizations are primarily interested in enabling business staff.
  2. Who is driving cloud adoption: Techaisle’s research shows that ITDMs are primarily responsible for cloud’s platform technologies – IaaS, and virtualization and mobile device management – and that they share authority for SaaS with BDMs. However, the capabilities based on these foundational technologies – mobility, Big Data, BI/analytics, collaboration and social media – are largely directed by BDMs. BDMs also have taken a leadership role in the solution process steps  (need identification, strategic and operational planning, even evaluation) that lead to a sale. ITDMs retain responsibility for deployment and training, but optimization is now also primarily the responsibility of BDMs.
  3. What kinds of cloud are in use: Our research shows that SMBs use a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds – and that organizations often use two or three of these approaches simultaneously. The data suggests that the cloud deployment process starts with the business requirement, and moves back to the deployment model – rather than starting with a platform, and expanding across incremental workloads. If cloud selection is not a “religious issue”, then accounts are not won or lost at a single platform decision – they are won or lost on a workload-by-workload basis.
  4. When will cloud usage patterns change and how: Our analysis demonstrates the coming dominance of hybrid as a delivery model – which drives increased demand for both public and private cloud as well – and projects high-growth forecasts for cloud storage, data backup and cloud security at a workload level, and for vertical applications, content publishing, CRM and BI/analytics in SaaS.
  5. Roles and responsibilities through the cloud security process: A troublingly-substantial proportion of small businesses either does not know who is responsible for specific security activities or believe that the requirements do not apply to their businesses, and both small and medium businesses demonstrate an over-reliance on cloud suppliers.
  6. Attributes of successful cloud solutions: Techaisle's survey results clearly demonstrate that small and medium businesses view support for mobility (and information access generally) as a key attribute of cloud success. Small businesses are also focused on the inherent cloud capability to deliver backup, continuity and disaster recovery, while mid-market firms view access to scalable compute and storage resources as a key cloud success attribute.  BDMs view continuity/backup/DR (and security) as key cloud deliverables – likely, as a result of a need to bridge the gap between setting policy and managing security processes while ITDMs demonstrate relatively acute interest in whether their cloud providers can deliver integration with physical systems and support for managed IT environments.
  7. Key inhibitor in using cloud: Security and control over data are two key inhibitors for accelerating the use of cloud, but the data indicates that BDMs can be persuaded that cloud contributes to better security.

 



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