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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.

SMB-Midmarket Digital Transformation fast-forwarding adoption of several technologies

Pandemic has changed how businesses operate, employees work, customers purchase and goods/services get delivered. This has also changed how small and midmarket firms are evaluating their core, cloud and edge technology needs to address their accelerated digital transformation objectives of cost efficiencies, operational excellence, innovation, business growth, organizational empowerment and customer intimacy. Clearly, core infrastructure has evolved to meet future digital transformation demands, but the question is how are small businesses and midmarket firms planning to adopt forward-facing solutions, like Artificial Intelligence, 5G, AR/VR, IoT, analytics and several others. There is a general sense within the SMBs that these advanced solutions will increase insight into and control over key aspects of their business operations and deliver benefits in different ways and to different ends.

Remaining true to the core belief of tracking the future of SMBs and channel partners, Techaisle studied global SMBs to determine future, planned and likely adoption patterns of several technology areas. The study of SMB and Midmarket digital transformation trends identified top 15 technology categories where the adoption growth rates will likely be highest in the next six months to a year. There are some surprises, for example, chatbots (for customer responsiveness), 5G (for enhanced mobility), open source (for cloud management, modernization and lower TCO), AI (for customer experience, security, operations) and several expected, for example, SD-WAN, HCI, WVD/VDI/DaaS and UCaaS.

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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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SMB cloud maturity does not equate to digital transformation maturity - IT maturity does

Mature cloud adoption does not equate to high maturity in digital transformation of an SMB business. Data shows that only 44% of SMBs on the digital transformation maturity curve are also mature cloud adopters. It is true that these businesses believe in cloud and its effect on digitization but they also believe that true digital transformation requires advanced adoption of multiple technology solutions. Techaisle survey and segmentation data also shows that SMBs which have a siloed strategy of digital transformation are intermediate adopters of cloud, mostly driven by non-IT business units which need cloud to further their business objectives.

techaisle smb digital tramsformation maturity cloud maturity

Techaisle SMBs digital transformation research revealed that although businesses are investing in cloud solutions, there is a deep-rooted belief and position to continually invest in core modern infrastructure solutions to support emerging technologies that deliver new and previously unimaginable business outcomes.

The digital transformation mature SMBs believe that the roadmap to successful digital transformation begins with the creation of a sound physical infrastructure - the ‘building blocks’ or ‘foundations’ of business infrastructure. Digital transformation doesn’t start with a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to the core – it is organic, with evolution happening at all levels of the business infrastructure. They also believe that core infrastructure devices need to be kept in sync with the requirements of digital transformation initiatives; servers and storage and networking and security need to advance with the needs of the organization.

techaisle smb digital transformation depends on it maturity

Research also reveals that there is no simple way of building a comprehensive view of future IT requirements to drive digital transformation. Many of the most powerful and compelling technologies in today’s business world seem almost magical in their abstraction from the physical world that we work in every day. The future requires – at both a business and technology level – a connection between back-end infrastructure, applications and client devices – cloud to core to edge - managed through an effective strategy, to obtain superior returns from interactions with customers and prospects, employees, shareholders and partners, and the market as a whole.

Research Reports

US SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends survey research report
Europe SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends survey research report
Asia/Pacific SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research
Latin America SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research

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Digital transformation on the radar of SMBs

Techaisle worldwide survey research data from over 3600 SMBs and interactions with hundreds of businesses shows that 51% of SMBs have stepped up their digital transformation investments and is prominent in the plans of 22% of SMBs who report that current crisis has amplified their “belief in organization-wide digital transformation”. SMB firms that were already committed to organization-wide digital transformation are experiencing 2.1x cost reduction, have 1.9x better levels of customer intimacy and 1.4x higher productivity levels than firms that have been ‘selective adopters’ of digital transformation. Data also reveals that nearly one-fourth of SMBs are not expecting to change (accelerate or decelerate) their plans and will continue with their pre-pandemic planned digital transformation journey and expect significant benefits and upsides in the near future. On the downside, 27% of SMBs are delaying their planned technology spend on digital transformation to reallocate funds to other essential immediate capital and operational expenditures.

Techaisle’s SMB research has found that the need to be more cost efficient is the single-most compelling reason for SMBs to embrace digital transformation. Other key drivers include initiating product innovation, enabling operational excellence, driving business growth and empowering organization productivity.

There are differences across geos (US, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America) as well as variations between small and midsized businesses.

For 46% of SMBs achieving cost efficiencies is a natural ‘first step’ in exerting control over their businesses and ensuring viability in an uncertain market which is besieged with cash flow constraints, limited access to capital, competitive landscape, erratic revenue, and many more. While productivity is always top of mind, cost-efficiency is a more compelling need. In fact, 1.6X as many SMBs are investing in digital transformation to reduce costs as those investing to improve productivity. Most SMBs have already adopted one or more technologies that contribute to employee productivity improvements; however, these SMBs are moving past individual to organizational-level productivity goals.

techaisle smb digital transformation pillars final
Looking at five pillars of SMB digital transformation, it is clear that digital transformation is cast primarily as a means of addressing business objectives. This observation holds an important message for vendor suppliers: when defining a digital transformation path, look first at the business outcomes, and work backwards to the need for core technology and Interwork© solutions that support these outcomes.

Data reveals that there is a difference in approach to investing in core infrastructure solutions between SMB firms adopting organization-wide digital transformation strategy vs. those with a siloed and sporadic approach. The roadmap to successful digital transformation begins with the creation of a sound infrastructure - the ‘building blocks’ or ‘foundations’ of business infrastructure. Core infrastructure devices need to be kept in sync with the requirements of digital transformation initiatives; servers and storage and networking and security need to advance with the needs of the organization.

Clearly, core infrastructure has evolved to meet future digital transformation demands. But SMBs are also increasingly making moves to adopt forward-facing solutions (2nd order technologies after foundational technologies). There is a general sense that these solutions will increase insight into and control over key aspects of the operation, and deliver benefits in different ways, and to different ends. Once a scalable, secure and cost-effective infrastructure platform is in place, it is expected to support a range of digital transformation objectives through deployment of different, complex solutions.

Today's economy demands that technology support business activities. The future will be defined by business capitalizing on IT-enabled business options. But the question in front of most SMBs is, “what is the path forward, from today's foundation to tomorrow's opportunity?”

A lack of well-articulated answer has resulted in a growing ‘digital divide’ in the SMB business ranks which has become starkly visible throughout the crisis created by pandemic. SMB firms that are embracing an agile IT/business infrastructure and capitalizing on the advantages of digital transformation are developing sustainable competitive advantages that will define a path towards success in both the near and longer term.

Detailed survey research reports are available for individual purchase or are delivered as part of annua; retainership contract.

US SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research
Europe SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research
Asia/Pacific SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research
Latin America SMB and Midmarket Digital Adoption trends research

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