The State of SMB IT

Spiceworks, a collaboration of IT professionals, has released a semi-annual report on small and medium business technology plans and purchase intent.  The infographic is full of fantastic information, including growing trends, where the money is going, and how businesses are prioritizing their services. How do IT professionals feel about BYOD?  The Cloud?  Let’s find out.

Budgets Are Growing – Jobs Aren’t

Budgets for IT departs are growing steadily, on average by about 162,000 dollars.  The surprising thing is that most businesses aren’t planning to bring on any more staff, at least not for the next 6 months.  The solution to employers seems to be, better technology, less employees.  Employers with less than 20 employees spend 1900 dollars per employee on average, and companies with 250 or more spent 700 dollars per employee on average.

Where is the Money Headed?

Hardware is really the answer.  The majority of IT budgets fall into hardware purchases, with software a close second, and IT services falling in third.  Tablets are the new trend, growing substantially in offices all over.  87% of respondents to the Spiceworks survey plan to make purchases of hardware, 38% of that being tablet purchases.  This is an increase of the last survey by almost 10%.  Sure Desktops, laptops, monitors, and servers come first, but tablets are growing.  Desktop upgrades are still the highest priority for businesses, followed in order by servers, laptops, SAN/NAS servers, and Wireless Networking products.

Playing it Safe

75% of respondents plan to upgrade or renew their software purchases during the rest of this year, with most of them focusing on Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam software.  Security has been a majority issue throughout this year, and securing the network has become a number one priority of most organizations.  With the threat of identity theft and corporate espionage, your network can never be too safe.  Not to mention the hassle Viruses cause for IT personnel.  They slow down your staff, and increase the workload on your IT staff.  Backup and Recovery Software are also high on the new purchase list for SMB’s.  As more and more people move away from paper files and start working digitally, better backups are required to keep their files safe and intact.  Virtualization software and Productivity Suites are also high on the new purchase lists.

Web Hosting is another top service among business.  Budgets for IT services have grown by about 7% since 2010, and that money has been placed into hosted backups, data storage, Domains, ISPs, and email hosting.

There are Clouds, but it Doesn’t Look Like Rain

Over the last 6 months, Cloud usage went from 48% usage to 62% usage.  Even more impressive?  Its expected to grow to 73%, an additional 11%, over the next 6 months.  As we know, the Cloud has been growing massively all over the world over the past year, with Cloud apps and services popping up exponentially.

Mid-sized businesses are taking lead on cloud adoption.  The top cloud services being adopted are Web hosting, email hosting, data backup, application hosting, and content filtering.  Data storage is planned to be added to that group within the next sixth months by most users.

Virtualize This!

Virtualization is growing strong among SMB’s across the board.  As hardware becomes better and server become easier to virtualize, less physical servers are needed to run your business.  Adoption of virtualization only grew by 1% over the last 6 months, but is expected to grow by 14% in the next 6 months.  Larger companies are quicker to adopt it than smaller organizations, with over 75% of companies with 250 or more employees virtualizing multiple servers.  On average, SMB’s have about 3.3 applications virtualized.  Once they start, it is likely they will start growing virtually.

Desktops aren’t safe from the virtual hammer either.  Thin clients and virtual desktops solutions are on the rise.  Nearly 25% of respondents have already started using them, and 16% more are planning to adopted desktop virtualization in the next 6 months.  Doesn’t matter how many employees are in the company, desktop virtualization seems to be growing.  Small and large companies both have 26% of their desktops virtualized on average.

Mobile is Moving

Tablets and Smartphones are growing like mad in the workplace.  Tablet and Smartphone adoption is expected to grow by 12% in the next 6 months as people work on the go.  As smarter workers, we don’t stay at a desk anymore.  What I should say is “We don’t have to.”  We are able to keep moving while working thanks to cloud applications, mobile technology, and great headsets.  That is starting to reflect in IT purchasing policies with the growth in purchasing of mobile hardware.

This brings up a topic of concern. BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a controversial issue that has been discussed by many.  Some love it, and some fear it.  The proponents of BYOD say it’s a great way to keep staff connected and working, improves morale, and doesn’t require that you purchase any new hardware.  Not to mention that many employees feel that they deserve to bring their devices to work, and would whether they were “allowed” to or not.  Nay-Sayers of BYOD feel that allowing users to bring their own devices and connect them to the work network is a security risk, and causes additional work and stress on the IT teams.  From much of my research it feels that the more accepted view is that BYOD is going to happen whether you want it to or not, and the best thing IT can do is accept it and control it, by preparing their network for those devices to be connected.  Once you accept it, you can manage it, prevent security risks, and keep your users happy and connected.

However not everyone agrees with me, in fact, this is a split issue. Only 59% of organizations accepted BYOD, 81% of them accepting smartphones, 62% accepting tablets, and only 44% accepting computers.  Attitudes about BYOD vary, with only 14% of users feeling BYOD is the future of technology and fully embracing it, 32% feeling it works for some but not all, 24% feeling it’s just a big headache, and 30% not knowing how to feel about it.  It is a toss up to see how it will sway in the future, but BYOD is sure to be a big topic of discussion in the next 6 months.



Apple or Android

Apple reigns supreme for tablets with the iPad still being the preferred choice by employees.  Although android isn’t far behind, trailed by Windows 7, Blackberry, Windows CP, and Google Chrome.  When it comes to Smartphones, Android and Apple phones are just about even in demand.  Blackberry falls into 3rd, and Windows into a far 4th.