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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 SaaS adoption growth creating new services opportunities

Techaisle SMB and Midmarket SaaS adoption data comparison from 2015 to 2019, illustrates that US SMB SaaS adoption went from widespread to practically ubiquitous. In 2015, less than 60% of microbusinesses and only 62% of all US small businesses were using SaaS, though the balance reported an intent to adopt software-as-a-service. In 2019, microbusiness use of SaaS has reached 77%, and overall small business SaaS use is up more than 29% to 80% of all US firms within the 1-99 employee segment. Looked at another way, growth from 62% to 80% means that within four years, over 47% of small businesses that weren’t already using at least one SaaS service adopted the technology.

The relative increase in the midmarket is even more striking. In 2015, 83% of US firms with 100-999 employees were using SaaS; by 2019, this figure has reached 98%, meaning that 88% of the 17% of midmarket businesses that hadn’t adopted SaaS in 2015 began using SaaS in the 2016-2019-timeframe, and leaving only 2% of US midmarket businesses without any SaaS services in use.

Data gathered from Techaisle SMB and Midmarket SaaS adoption survey suggests that the immediate planned progression of SaaS portfolios will be measured in the US but not so in most other regions. European SMB SaaS adoption is still tepid at 49%, Asia/Pacific is not far behind Europe at 46%, and Latin America is still only 36%.

As is generally the case with cloud solutions, SMB buyers who have purchased or plan to acquire SaaS applications most often approach the ISV directly. While SPs/MSPs have traditionally been the most common alternative source of SaaS solutions, new SMB customers are increasingly turning to consultants – and to specialized cloud brokers – if they are not engaging directly with the ISV. The data indicates that these cloud service brokers are emerging as an important force in the SMB SaaS market.

Add-on services represent a large and essential source of revenue for SaaS suppliers; license spend represents less than 25% of total SMB customer spending, while non-license spend on services accounts for over 75% of the total. Support for analytics/dashboards and system integration are the two most widely adopted add-on services. Current SMB users are looking to invest in systems integration, sales process design, disaster recovery and deployment services, while new SaaS buyers are adding maintenance and operations, systems integration and analytics/dashboards to their new SaaS solutions. Some services are ‘stickier’ than others. Survey also found that SMBs often drop services after initial deployment is complete, but backup/DR, data cleaning, security, and analytics support are each retained by at least three-quarters of initial SMB SaaS buyers.

Stickiness, however, is mainly a function of company size. Very small (<10 employees) businesses tend to dramatically reduce annual spend after deployment, while small and mid-sized businesses report relatively flat year-over-year spending.

System configuration (including designing reports, dashboards and analytics), customization, data and/or application integration, consulting (including sales process design) and training are the top five non-license services acquired by SMBs, as measured by percentage of total services spending.

Let us drill down into services usage with the adoption of CRM.

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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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