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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.

Eight Key SMB and Midmarket Trends

97% of SMBs and midmarket firms consider technology important and integral to business success. As we enter 2023, IT product and service suppliers are looking to create a context for understanding the range of outcomes that the new year may bring. Techaisle has launched its "2023 in Focus" research series to support that effort, which illuminates issues and requirements in the vast SMB, core-midmarket, and upper-midmarket segments. After surveying thousands of SMBs and midmarket firms and having hundreds of depth calls, we see key trends that revolve around:

  • Enabling a connected business and business process automation
  • Converging on long-term growth, profitability, and innovation
  • Prioritizing cloud cost management and security
  • Hybrid work but challenges are overwhelming
  • Sharpening focus on IT spend for time to value, agility
  • As-a-service technology acquisition gaining momentum

techaisle 8 key smb trends

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SMBs and midmarket firms cautiously moving away from Hybrid Work

Poised for liftoff for some time, the remote work revolution was set to shift into overdrive. However, hybrid work is challenging the SMBs. By the end of 2023, 32% of employees within the SMB and midmarket firms expect to have hybrid work arrangements, down from 58% in 2021 and similar to 29% (pre-pandemic levels) in 2019. Over 40% of SMBs and Upper midmarket firms are experiencing significant challenges impacting remote employees’ productivity. In addition, 39% of SMBs and 41% of upper midmarket firms have critical security concerns relative to remote and hybrid work. Furthermore, 43% of businesses cannot adequately support remote employees, and 39% cannot provide consistent technology experience for remote and on-site employees. Finally, 41% of SMBs and upper midmarket firms have not overcome organizational challenges in managing remote employees. Techaisle data shows that senior management is spending 3X more time maintaining company culture through the hybrid organization, 2.5X more time in employee empathy, and 2X more time in supervision and management. 

As a result, 62% of SMBs and 68% of upper midmarket firms plan to return all employees to the office in 2023. However, bringing the employees back to the office is also of concern to the executive management. As a result, 37% of SMBs are prioritizing office space planning, and 32% are identifying wayfinding technologies. In addition, 41% of upper midmarket firms are investigating ID management, and 40% are investing in smart meeting rooms.

techaisle smb midmarket hybrid work

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IBM launches Partner Plus experience designed to accelerate partner business velocity

Hybrid cloud is non-optional, security is a priority, automation is critical, and AI platform adoption is when not if. Cloud automation, hybrid cloud orchestration, and cloud cost management are imposing a daunting challenge on the channel. As the cloud adoption landscape continues to shift, each IT supplier has been evaluating and evolving its partner program to drive sales and profitability for its partners. IBM has been working on developing its program since May 2020, when it introduced Build, Sell, and Service tracks. However, the evolution took on urgency after Arvind Krishna, Chairman, and CEO, of IBM, declared the ecosystem as one of the company's key priorities. As a result, IBM has increased its specialized resources by 50 percent and technical resources by 30 percent to support the partner ecosystem. Recently, IBM announced its new program called Partner Plus. IBM PartnerWorld transitioned to IBM Partner Plus experience on January 4, 2023, with the new incentive program taking effect on April 1, 2023.

Enablement, empowerment, ecosystem, and experiences are the unwritten principles driving IBM Partner Plus in transforming the rules of partner engagement. Kate Woolley, General Manager of IBM Ecosystem, says, “A thriving ecosystem is critical to underpin the success of any technology company, and we believe the underpinnings of this must be an open and inclusive ecosystem. We can reach and do more through and with our ecosystem. As a result, we have put our partners at the center of IBM’s go-to-market strategy.”

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Top 10 SMB and Midmarket business issues, IT priorities and challenges for 2023

They are here - Techaisle's annual SMB and Midmarket Top 10 IT Priorities, IT Challenges, and Business Issues infographics, 13th year of Techaisle tracking at a WW level, and is sought after by IT vendors, channel partners, and media. Techaisle surveyed over 5000 SMBs, quota sampled to ensure adequate coverage of four small businesses (1-9, 10-19, 20-49, and 50-99 employees), three midmarket (100-249, 250-499, and 500-999 employees) and two upper midmarket (1000-2499, 2500-4999) segments. As a result, the data represents a robust and reliable sampling of the market segment for IT products and services.

Significant changes in 2023 as compared to 2022 are:

  • Driving innovation and managing uncertainty, absent in 2022, are among the top 10 business issues in 2023.
  • Deploying customer experience solutions as an IT priority has moved to 4th place as compared to 9th in 2022. CCaaS is considered an integral component of customer experience solutions.
  • Implementing employee experience platforms and 5G-enabled devices/applications are new IT priorities within the top 10 list. UCaaS is one of the technology areas being investigated by SMBs.
  • Adopting collaboration technology solutions has move down from 3rd rank to 8th and hybrid workplace solutions as a priority ranks 10th as compared to 5th in 2022
  • Budget constraint has been a constant IT challenge fixture for over a decade. For 2023, it has been replaced by cloud cost management. Cloud optimization and cost management are the top IT challenges for SMBs, Core-Midmarket, and Upper Midmarket firms.
  • Preventing Cyberattacks, adopting Zero Trust, and moving to as-a-service technology acquisition for new IT challenges are among the top five.
  • Sustainability is increasingly becoming relevant and essential for the SMB segment, and there is no surprise that it is among the top challenges.
  • Integration, business process automation is now non-optional and a challenge, which is worsened because of the inability to find trained employees
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