When it comes to IT, small to medium-sized businesses in a recent CompTIA survey of 404 customers said that their top five challenges in order are smaller budgets (42 percent), followed by increasing productivity (28 percent), keeping systems operational (27 percent), legacy systems (26 percent) and maintenance costs (25 percent).
Given the current state of the economy, smaller budgets shouldn't come as much of a surprise. But the strategies that these companies are adopting to meet the challenge vary widely.
For example, when asked what their strategic goals are, 80 percent identified using customer relationship management (CRM) software, followed by enhancing IT security at 75 percent. Using ERP and improving network bandwidth were tied for third at 71 percent and then improving electronic commerce at 68 percent.
But when asked what products and technologies they plan to acquire in 2010, the top five items were notebooks at 37 percent, followed by netbooks and productivity suites both at 31 percent, and then desktop PCs and smartphones at 30 percent each. In addition, the list of emerging technologies that SMB companies planned to invest in was led by managed services, software-as-a-service, VoIP/telephony, secured data storage and backup and server virtualization.
In terms of the people deploying more SaaS, 22 percent plan to add accounting software in a SaaS format, followed by business productivity at 20 percent, business intelligence at 18 percent, and payroll and CRM both at 17 percent.
And just to make matters even more interesting, the top measurements for IT success were defined as reducing the number of software licenses in use at the company and reducing IT headcount.
Clearly, companies in the SMB space are wrestling with a lot of conflicting goals in 2010, which is one of the reasons that being a CIO in a midmarket company can be so tough. Midmarket CIOs need each other to provide mutual support, which is one of the primary reasons that IT executives should sign up for the upcoming MidMarket CIO Forum in Orlando, Fla.
In the meantime, if you're feeling like you're being pulled in multiple directions every day, don't feel bad. Apparently, so is everyone else.