Techaisle just released its annual SMB (small to midsize business) and Midmarket Top 10 IT Priorities, IT Challenges and Business Issues report. The 2017 study examines 15 areas of technology, 20 IT challenges and 20 business issues. There are some major changes when compared with the 2016 SMB report.

The top three SMB business issues for 2017 are the same as in 2016, but the order has changed. They are:

  • Improving workforce productivity (second in 2016)
  • Attracting and retaining new customers (third in 2016)
  • Improving quality of products and processes (first in 2016)

Rounding out the top five are “improving effectiveness of sales and marketing” and “managing inventory effectively.” Collectively, the top five business issues support number six on the list – increasing profitability – as well as the need to improve operational efficiency and outcomes.

Cloud computing is still the biggest IT priority, but collaboration jumped from fourth in 2016 to second in 2017. Not coincidentally, the right collaboration tools can directly impact the top three business issues mentioned previously – improving productivity, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining business processes.

After mobility solutions (third) and security solutions for cloud and mobile (fourth), digitization enters the top 10 as the fifth highest IT priority for 2017. While SMBs started exploring true digitization in 2016, the increased emphasis in 2017 indicates that more SMBs are recognizing the value of digitization as a competitive differentiator.

In 2014, Techaisle predicted that SMBs would view collaboration, mobility and the cloud as parts of integrated business solutions, even though vendors tended to define them separately. The fact that these three areas now represent the biggest SMB IT priorities reinforces the 2014 prediction that small companies expect mobile, collaboration and the cloud to be default attributes in new business applications.

At the bottom of the IT priorities list you’ll find the Internet of Things, business analytics and intelligence, virtualization, and converged infrastructure. This would suggest that more SMBs are considering new data center models and looking for ways to leverage the power of data from previously untapped sources.

Budgetary constraints, mobile security/enabling the mobile workforce, and excessive data growth will continue to be major IT challenges for SMBs in 2017. However, the maintenance of existing IT infrastructure jumped from fifth place in 2016 to second in 2017. This would explain why virtualization and converged infrastructure are on the radar of smaller organizations, and why managed services ranked No. 6 on the IT priorities list.

SSD defines productivity, the top business issue in this year’s report, as “work, uninterrupted.” Our managed services solution, Total IT Management, is designed to help SMBs tackle urgent business issues, as well as major IT priorities and challenges, with productivity and efficiency in mind. That means focusing on long-term solutions with predictable costs as opposed to temporary fixes that add unsustainable cost and complexity.

In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss many of the above-mentioned IT priorities and in greater detail. Meanwhile, contact SSD to schedule a strategy session to address your business and IT needs.