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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Zero Trust Architecture on the Rise in Midmarket and SMBs

It is the best of places; it is the worst of places. The famous opening line echoed from the Dickens masterpiece “A Tale of Two Cities” describes a period in which opposites – wisdom and foolishness, light and darkness, hope and despair – exist side by side. The events and depths of emotion described in the novel are much more extreme than the scenarios cloud and overall IT adoption presents to businesses. But the notion that there are opposing elements of opportunity and requirement associated with the cloud would ring true to SMB and midmarket executives, who need to balance the new business outcomes that they can achieve via cost-effective cloud/IT solutions with the need to safeguard users, data, and applications from malicious intruders. The upside is competitiveness in a fast-moving economy; the downside is destroying customer relationships and corporate reputations at the core of business success. Where is the safe middle ground – the approach that results in optimal business protection and access to the upside associated with cloud/IT solutions?

The market is buzzing with discussions on zero trust (ZT). A Techaisle survey of 2035 SMBs and Midmarket firms shows that 8% of small businesses, 46% of core-midmarket firms, and 69% of upper midmarket firms know of ZT and that 21% of SMBs and 64% of midmarket firms consider its adoption either very important or important. Critical reasons for adopting zero trust include reducing insider threats, breach prevention, compliance, mitigating endpoint threats, and managing hybrid IT and remote work security issues.

However, most firms need to be made aware that ZT is not a product but a framework that requires a focus on the journey and strategy. Regardless, 14% of “in the know” SMBs and 35% of upper midmarket firms have begun planning their investments in ZT technology, initially focusing on identifying their critical digital assets and security vulnerabilities.

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Global US$84B spend on IT Security in 2023 by SMB and Midmarket firms

Techaisle research shows that the SMB and Midmarket spend on IT security will likely be US$84.2 B in 2023, an increase of 9.6% from 2022. IT security is the 2nd top priority for SMBs and 1st priority for core midmarket and upper midmarket firms. Between 55% and 54% of firms consider preventing cyberattacks a priority. 52% of SMBs and 71% of midmarket firms experienced ransomware attacks last year. Similarly, 56% of SMBs and 88% of midmarket firms had cyberattacks. Yet only 32% of SMB and midmarket employees understand phishing. Only 15% of employees have had security awareness training. At the same time, 41% of SMBs and midmarket firms are sure that 100% of their employees have access privileges beyond what they require. The two most significant challenges are implementing security cost-effectively and meeting business requirements.

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Six Key SMB and Upper Midmarket Security Trends

The 2023 worldwide SMB, Core Midmarket, and Upper Midmarket IT Security spend will likely be US$84 billion. Additionally, 38% of SMBs and 35% of upper midmarket firms will likely purchase IT security solutions from managed services providers (MSPs). In today’s SMB market, it is critical for vendors to build a detailed understanding of the small, core midmarket, and upper-midmarket segments and to align resources and strategies with requirements as these businesses move from initial experimentation with sophisticated solutions toward mass-market adoption. In the latest research, Techaisle analyzed 2035 survey responses to provide the insight needed to build and execute on security strategies for the small and midmarket customer segments. We find there are six key trends:

techaisle six key smb midmarket security trends

Beyond the six key trends, research finds:

  • A high proportion of SMBs and upper midmarket firms report that they experienced security breaches last year. However, despite this high exposure rate, most SMBs believe they are either “fully prepared and confident” or “as prepared as they can be” for security issues.
  • Small and midmarket firms recognize that the cloud increases the potential for security breaches but are confident – overly so, in Techaisle’s view – in their ability to cope with this expanded risk profile. As a result, most SMBs rely on core security practices and technologies to address cloud-specific threats and are underinvested in cloud security solutions.
  • Security solutions currently in use can be divided into four categories: protection of the mobile environment, protection of data entering the corporate environment, traffic inspection and management, and protection of data being used within the corporate environment.
  • Security-as-a-Service suppliers have had the most success thus far with data center/server, network, and endpoint security offerings.
  • BDMs play an active role in setting security policies, but technical buyers are most likely to acquire security solutions. These technical buyers focus primarily on solution reliability; more junior security professionals focus on support, and senior IT management looks at price/performance.
  • Marketing messages aimed at security buyers should be incorporated within preferred source containers (e.g., whitepapers, case studies, blog posts, etc.) and distributed through preferred channels (e.g., vendor websites, search) aligned with different stages of the security decision process. For example, data shows that some source types, including product trials/demo videos and case studies, are essential in identifying and selecting security vendors.

 

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Zoho Workplace may well be the employee experience platform we have been missing

On February 8th, 2023, Zoho unveiled its unified communications platform, Trident, a Zoho Workplace that offers businesses easier ways to communicate across channels, improve employee experience, enhance organizational productivity, and accelerate business transformation by combining collaboration, productivity, and communication tools. “Distributed,” “remote,” and “hybrid” – these are the realities of today’s workforce. Businesses are increasingly using technology to provide cohesion within the workforce. Businesses that have adopted unified workspace technology believe strongly that it contributes to productivity by providing a single workspace, delivering better access to applications and resources from which employees can accomplish most of their daily work. The Zoho Workplace, five years in development before employee experience became imperative, is one solution that can replace multiple products such as Slack, Trello, Zoom, Monday, DocuSign, Grammarly, and even M365/Google Workspace. Techaisle’s analysis of current and planned cloud workloads underscores the importance of contextual, collaborative capabilities within business applications. Each product mentioned addresses a specific business requirement but is not seamlessly interconnected to provide a cohesive experience without customization and integration overheads.

In the wake of great resignation, robust job market, and paucity of skill sets, businesses are prioritizing employee experience. For example, Techaisle’s latest research shows that deploying employee experience solutions is a priority for 60% of small businesses, 88% of core midmarket, and 96% of upper midmarket firms. These firms are using digitalization initiatives for employee empowerment and are digitally transforming to support employees. Many factors drive productivity, including management approaches, processes and practices, and collaboration/synergy across activities and functions. But technology is a pivotal contributor to productivity – directly and through its ability to positively affect processes and collaboration. This is the target market that Zoho is addressing. Zoho Workplace has more than 16 million users and is growing at 30%+ year-on-year.

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