Editor’s Note: Carolyn April is CompTIA’s Senior Director of Industry Analysis. CompTIA is a non-profit trade association that issues professional certifications for the information technology industry.
Is this an interesting fact? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 99% of all U.S. businesses are small by definition and employ less than 500 people. This equates to a whopping 32.5 million businesses, employing 48% of the country’s workforce as of 2021.
Look at these numbers for a moment. Unless you work for a company like IBM, Microsoft, Ford or Procter & Gamble, you are likely to spend professional time at a small business each week. No, but in fact it constitutes the backbone of the US economy.
And they have evolved. Over the decades, small businesses—from the 10-employee family-owned pizzeria to his 400-person mighty sheet metal manufacturing plant—have dominated the game in terms of efficiency, innovation, and sales performance. have improved. how did they do that? Short answer: technology. Whether it’s e-commerce platforms, POS solutions, robotics, or SaaS-based business applications, the democratization and ubiquity of IT has arguably had the greatest impact on the SMB universe. Technology is no longer a nice to have but a competitive advantage for even the smallest of companies.
And many of these companies know that. Consider the following points: In CompTIA’s latest survey, SMB Technology Buying Trends, 62% of respondents said their use of today’s technology is a key factor in achieving their strategic business goals. Thirty-one percent see technology as a secondary factor in these key initiatives, with only 5% calling it a non-factor. This comes from an unprecedented and difficult year of pandemic impacts and restrictions that hit small businesses especially hard. (Note: his CompTIA sample for this study defines SMB companies as those with less than 250 employees her)
After being primarily defensive over the past two years, SMBs are starting to move away from the offensive playbook again. In the past two years of the pandemic, SMBs have mostly done their best to stay in business, not lay off staff, and retain customers. But now, the top business goals for 2021, such as renewing or retaining existing customers and defending against competition, are taking a back seat to activities like hiring skilled workers and implementing new ideas.
Remarkably, this return to strategic thinking recognizes technology as the enabler and fuel for achieving those goals. Last year’s technology initiatives focused primarily on infrastructure, largely driven by the shift to remote work that many companies experienced overnight. Purchasing devices such as laptops, printers, and phones for staff has become paramount, as have collaboration, video, and communication/telecom solutions to better enable virtual work environments. When asked where they would like to allocate their technology spending this year, respondents shifted away from the infrastructure buying category to investing in innovation and talent. For example, 28% of SMBs want to invest in technology that drives innovation, compared to 19% in 2021. And on the human side of the equation, he said he wants to hire more technical staff this year and invest more in training and certification. Taken together, these goals represent a departure from the bunker trajectory for small businesses trying to shake off the effects of the pandemic.
In general, these more aggressive business goals seem to align with a more proactive attitude to the state of the business. His 3 out of 10 SMBs agreed their company would be where it is in his 2022 due to increased revenue and profitability. This compares with 22% who said yes last year. The majority of companies describe their own health as having stable revenue and profit levels, similar to last year (51% for him in 2022 and 48% for 2021). A net 19% reported struggling this year, down from 29% in 2021.
Good news. This, however, is also somewhat interesting given the global economic cloud and doom of summer 2022. His SMB in the survey cites macroeconomic concerns as ongoing threats, including continued inflation, a potential recession, and woes in his chain of supply. Nonetheless, the reason for the more optimistic attitude is probably because the pandemic has set back in terms of its day-to-day impact on store operations.
That optimism extends to their opinions on their company’s current technology budget. About half think their spending levels are about right, and a surprising 22% think they’re too high. A quarter do not believe that current technology spending is sufficient. In reality, many of the strategic goals these companies aspire to require a higher level of technology investment than some of his SMBs realize. why don’t they know? The main reason may be the fact that a small segment of SMBs often operate without a dedicated IT team. This means that many of the costs beyond the technology’s initial price tag can be overlooked. These costs include staff training on new technologies, the integration work required to tie new systems or applications into the wider IT environment, and/or the steps necessary to ensure cybersecurity needs are met. will be
The gap between the reality of spending and the need to actually spend is a perennial problem for SMBs who are constantly managing resource allocations. But when strategic thinking about business goals and the role technology plays in achieving them is on track as it is today, committing to further investment by business owners is key to success. I hope it helps you notice things and strengthen them against another unexpected body blow like this: Pandemic.
Note: This blog was originally published at https://connect.comptia.org/blog/tech-buying-trends-smbs-pinpoint-technology-in-return-to-strategy.
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