Thursday, April 22, 2010

SMB IT Spending Recovers: Looking for ROI and Diagnostic Guidance

Microsoft Corp. released its second annual Microsoft SMB/Partner Insight Report and the study shows that although SMBs remain concerned about the business climate, most will increase technology spending in 2010, highlighting the role of IT as a strategic business tool in this crucial sector of the global economy.

Of great note is that:
1) Economic Buyers Reign, even in SMBS: SMBs are cost conscience with their spending, with the economic buyer clearly in control. According to the study, SMBs will invest in IT that directly benefits their bottom line — either by reducing operating costs, improving employee productivity, or acquiring and retaining customers.

2) Looking for Strategic Guidance on IT Investing: Most SMBs lack dedicated IT staff, and rely heavily on local technology partners to help them evaluate, implement and maintain the right IT solutions. Facing increasingly complex IT options and a challenging economic environment, SMBs are now looking to these partners to provide more strategic guidance that is better tailored to their business, vertical and industry, the study found. Microsoft Small Business Specialists forecasted that customers would look to them most for help with cost-reduction measures, increasing remote management, and a "one-stop" experience aligning technology with business needs.

In the study, based on a survey of Microsoft Small Business Specialist partners, 63 percent of respondents predicted their SMB customers will spend more on IT in 2010, up from just 25 percent in 2009, with overall SMB IT spending anticipated to rise by an average of 16 percent over 2009 levels. Results from more than 500 partners in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Brazil and India indicate that SMBs view virtualization, IT consolidation, software as a service, customer relationship management (CRM), and support of remote workers as their most important technology investments.

Recent industry research confirms many of these findings and attests to the importance of SMBs to the economy. According to James A. Browning at market research firm Gartner Inc., "The SMB market represents 44 percent of the total IT market spending. We predict that SMBs will spend $800 billion on IT in 2010. Our research indicates that midsize businesses worldwide will increase their IT spending in 2010 by 5.4 percent over 2009 spending levels."*

The complete 2010 Microsoft SMB/Partner Insight Report is available at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/smb/docs/2010smbinsight.doc.

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