Top 20 SMB Technologies and Purchasing Trends

By Lawrence Walsh Print this article Print

Companies with under 1,000 employees spent nearly $200 billion on IT goods and services in 2007, and are rapidly adopting technology previously reserved for enterprises to grow their businesses.

Quick Reference: SMB IT Spending Trends

Small and midsized businesses in the United States spent $200 billion on technology, with the lion's share going to support and integration services, computing platforms and Internet access, as these organizations increasingly look to technology to help fuel their growth and increase productivity.

According to a new SMB IT spending survey conducted by CompTIA and AMI-Partners, SMBs are being deterred by economic downturns caused by rising energy costs and the subprime mortgage woes. Rather, they're looking at significant expansion. Nearly two-thirds plan to add between 1 and 5 employees in the coming year, and one-quarter will add more than six employees.

Staffing plans are spurred by a rather optimistic outlook for revenue performance in 2008. Nearly half (45 percent) are forecasting revenue growth of 10 percent or better; while one-fifth say their revenues will grow 20 percent or more.

Fueling growth, in part, is investments in new technologies and upgrades to existing infrastructure. According to the survey, SMBs are heavily invested in key technologies that were once previously reserved for enterprises or have plans to invest in new, advanced technologies.

The following are the top technologies that SMBs have either deployed or plan to purchase in the next 12 months:

1.Desktop PCs98%
2. Laptops/Notebooks93%
3. Productivity Software Suites 90%
4. Firewalls 79%
5. Single-function Laser Printers76%
6. Accounting/Tax Software 69%
7. LAN-based Servers67%
8. Fax Machines 67%
9. Routers and Switches65%
10. Color Multifunction Printers 64%
11. Full-function Copiers59%
12. Desktop Publishing Software 57%
13. Color Laser Printers57%
14. Remote Access/VPN 49%
15. VPNs47%
16. Secure Backup/Disaster Recovery 47%
17. Time Management Software47%
18. Wireless/Wi-Fi LAN 44%
19. Word Processing software39%
20. Spreadsheet Software 37%

According to the survey, 64 percent of SMBs characterize themselves as "value adopters," or companies that will wait until technology is proven before purchasing it but not waiting so long that they become laggards.

The survey found several technologies previously reserved for the enterprise are gaining traction in the SMB market. These technologies include:

1.Custom Software31%
2. Web Services and applications28%
3. CRM/Sales Force Automation 23%
4. Software as a service (SaaS)20%
5. IP Telephony 19%
6. Storage Area Networks19%
7. ERP/Supply Chain Software 18%
8. Open Source/Linux Applications18%

While SMBs see technology as a means for growing their businesses and gaining operational efficiencies, they are also challenged by management and maintenance costs, scalability and integration issues. Pervasive among the more than 700 survey participants is the need for value; most are willing to pay for the technologies they need so long as they can justify and contain the total cost of ownership.

Brand leadership and brand loyalty play little difference in purchasing decisions, while competitive pricing ranked among their chief purchasing criteria. Competitive pricing is also the area where SMBs say vendors need the most improvement. This shows SMBs will go with technology providers that deliver the best value for their businesses.

NEXT: SMB Spending

This article was originally published on 2007-11-02
Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.
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