SWC Technology Trends Survey Cites ‘Keeping Up’ as Today’s Major IT Challenge for SMBs

October 10, 2012   //   News

In the third edition of the SWC Technology Trends Survey sponsored by SWC Technology Partners, nearly 30% of respondents stated that keeping up with technology is the top IT pain point for their mid-market organizations, reflecting the difficulty of managing today’s increasingly complex technology landscape. The survey also revealed a troubling dependence on individual IT staff members, high use of managed services, slowly rising adoption of cloud computing, and attitudes toward other technologies.

“The Tech Trends survey seems to underscore the profound changes occurring in today’s IT environment,” said Elliott Baretz, SWC Vice President. “Change has always been a hallmark of IT but we are beginning to see extreme shifts in business models and IT strategy. How today’s IT leaders responds to this new chapter is going to separate who simply keeps up with technology from those who prosper through it.”

Keeping Up

In an open-ended question that asked “What is the greatest challenge in IT today?” and invited participants to fill in the blank, the most common answer by far – cited independently by 28% of respondents – was “keeping up” with the current technology environment. Security, budget and resources tied for a distant second place, while headline-grabbing topics like cloud computing and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement were at the bottom of the list with only a handful of votes. The striking number of “keeping up” responses demonstrates the burden placed on SMBs by the proliferation of business-enabling technologies and the need for solutions to address the problem.

Reliance on One Team Member

In an apparently related issue, more than 50% of respondents stated that their business depends on a particular IT staff member because of that individual’s knowledge about a given system or technology. The response marked a 15% increase over SWC’s 2011 survey, suggesting that today’s mid-market IT teams increasingly forego cross-training to distribute knowledge across multiple team members because of the time required to manage even the most basic technology responsibilities.

Use of Managed Services

In another finding presumably related to the heavy IT workload, one-third of respondents reported partnering with a managed services provider to monitor or manage their network. This high managed services adoption rate – supported by other research – may reflect a decision by mid-market companies to focus their time “keeping up” with industry technologies by outsourcing basic infrastructure management to a third party. It may also indicate a strategy for reducing dependence on individual IT personnel by diverting network support duties to a provider with a staff specializing in that area.

Technology Adoption and Revenue Trends

The survey also found that:

  • Over 9% of respondents have now adopted at least one cloud computing solution for their entire organization, triple the adoption rate reported last year. However, 34% still have not pursued any pilot or production cloud computing initiatives.
  • More than one-third of respondents expect Windows 8 to be used by part of their organization by the end of 2012, with over 75% expecting partial adoption by the end of 2013.
  • 58% of respondents have deployed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, including 32% in the last two years. Nearly 70% indicated that SharePoint has been a valuable investment.
  • Mobilizing key applications for employees is a major initiative, with 37% planning to build a mobile application in the next year – particularly for marketing and sales enablement.
  • 56% of respondents have experienced increased revenues in the last 12 months, with nearly 26% increasing profit margin in the same period – a significant increase over SWC’s 2011 survey.

The 2012 SWC Technology Trends Survey marks the third time that SWC has measured IT conditions in the mid-market since 2009. More than 224 mid-market IT and business leaders participated in this year’s poll. The majority of responders were IT senior leaders and management from organizations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana in industries including education, healthcare, manufacturing, non-profit, professional services and real estate. Nearly 70% of respondents manage environments with a user base between 100 and 2,000 individuals.

About SWC Technology Partners, Inc.

SWC Technology Partners is an award-winning provider of IT solutions to midsize businesses. For more than 30 years, SWC has excelled at delivering technology solutions that optimize productivity, strengthen customer relationships, enhance data sharing and drive profitability. SWC specializes in technology solutions that match the business needs of midmarket organizations including managed services; infrastructure solutions such as Unified Communications, virtualization and network security; and software solutions including SharePoint, business intelligence and custom development. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, just outside Chicago, SWC is a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner and was honored as a Microsoft Central Region Partner of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. To learn more, visit https://www.swc.com or email contact@swc.com or call 630.572.0240. Follow SWC on Facebook, LinkedIn and on Twitter @SWCTechPartners