A new study commissioned by IBM has found that the majority (53 percent) of mid-sized businesses have plans to increase their IT spending over the next 12 to 18 months, with the rest split between maintaining the status quo (31 percent) and decreasing their spending (16 percent). The study was conducted independently by KS&R, Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2010, and entailed surveying more than 2,000 business and information technology decision makers from mid-sized businesses spread across 20 countries.
As mentioned by InformationWeek, one interesting point here was how just 21 percent of respondents identified their top strategic mindset as cost reductions and improving operational efficiency. This represents a steep drop of 32 percent from the same survey conducted a year ago, and is likely a reflection of shifting mindsets as well as a possible uptick in business optimism. (The other 79 percent cited customers, innovation and growth as their major priorities.)
I downloaded the free "Inside the Midmarket: A 2011 Perspective" report (pdf), and highlighted some of my observations below.
- Security management is identified as the top technology focus area for 63 percent of businesses, which is probably not a surprise given the rapidly shifting security landscape over the last year. Clearly, mid-sized businesses are waking up to the fact that hackers are increasingly targeting them due to their higher value and comparatively lower level of protection.
- Other top technology priorities cited by businesses include customer relationship management, followed closely by the adoption of business analytics and information management tools. Clearly, mid-sized businesses are moving towards the use of analytics and information management to better meet the needs of their clientele.
- When asked to identify the top business benefits of implementing cloud computing, businesses chose a wide range of benefits with no particular emphasis on any one area. This range includes cost reduction (73 percent), manageability (70 percent), flexible pricing (66 percent) and resource scalability (66 percent), among others. This trend is interesting as it mirrors the situation with virtualization when it gained mainstream recognition; businesses at that time rushed to deploy virtualization with multiple benefits in mind.
- Sixty-six percent of respondents say they have started or intend to implement cloud computing, just one percentage point behind virtualization (67 percent). While the number includes those who are still in the planning phase of their cloud endeavor, I think it would be fair to say that cloud computing has garnered a fair amount of acceptance in business.
Summarizing the findings in the report, it is clear that mid-sized businesses are focused on enhancing their security to defend against intruders and malware, on analytics to enable a greater understanding of customers and on an acceptance of cloud computing as a mainstream tool to achieve their business objective.