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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.

SMBs Make Cloud Calling and Collaboration a Priority – Webex Gets it

Historically, remote work solutions have been the domain of large enterprises equipped with processes and technology resources needed to support workers in the field. However, driven by short- and longer-term factors, flexible work options are now available to employees in businesses of all sizes. Moreover, as social distance health requirements forced the temporary closure of public office spaces, remote work became a matter of survival for many organizations. The pandemic has also crystalized recognition of the productivity benefits of technology-enabled remote work – measured in output rather than hours – which is sure to have a profound and durable impact on workplace behaviors. Today, working from anywhere is the new normal, enabled by powerful communication and collaboration tools, which draw together workers regardless of physical location and are becoming the catalyst for change in large and smaller businesses. What are the primary enablers of this flexible work trend? Data shows a growing commitment to leveraging the power of the cloud and adjacent technologies of mobility, cloud calling, and collaboration - technologies that allow workers and teams to connect, reflect, and share insights and output. Techaisle SMB and Midmarket Hybrid work and collaboration adoption survey, N=1810, shows that:

  • 93% of SMBs have prioritized remote and hybrid workplace technology solution adoption
  • 58% of employees in the SMB segment are likely to work remotely
  • 79% of SMBs are prioritizing cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions which show evolving recognition of the value of cloud calling and collaboration

The simultaneous commitment to cloud calling and collaboration solutions and future planning around a return to the office suggest that something deeper is at play in the SMB communications solution marketplace. Cloud calling and Collaboration are central components of virtually all SMB business activities. The need to communicate anywhere, anytime also means any type of communication and collaboration – synchronous/asynchronous, serendipitous/scheduled, on-the-go/fixed location, within a virtual workspace/within a specific app, with employees/partners/customers. As the lines of demarcation between tasks have been eroded by the increased pace and changing nature of business activities, SMBs have moved past linking discrete actions through linear, sequential processes. Instead, in today's business environment, SMBs interact at all points in the business cycle: in cross-functional planning and management, within a single co-created document, in the stages and connection points defined by their business processes, in delivering better customer experiences, and enabling improved employee productivity.

There is value in adopting unified cloud calling and collaboration. The use of traditional collaboration tools by SMBs is well-established. However, cloud calling solutions are rapidly gaining attention from SMBs. With nearly a hundred percent cloud priority, shifting from on-prem solutions (acquired through CAPEX budget) to cloud-based as-a-service offerings creates a sort of inflection point. As the name implies, cloud calling is cloud-based and available as a subscription. It supports remote work and mobility, provides cash flow predictability, easily integrates within the employees' workspace, and improves IT manageability and efficiency.

A significant collaboration technology shift is SMB's use of a cloud-based communications platform with integrated telephony (audio/video/web conferencing), IM/chat/presence, unified messaging, and mobility. Techaisle data shows that today, just under a third (27%) of SMBs are using integrated solutions, while over a third (35%) plan to adopt the platform in the coming year, a likely adoption growth of over 100%.

The Webex integrated collaboration platform

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Worldwide Midmarket IT spending is forecast to reach USD993 billion in 2022

Techaisle's latest survey research forecasts worldwide midmarket (100-5000 employees) IT spend (excluding telecom services) will reach US$993 billion in 2022. Cloud-managed services are an integral component of IT services and are seeing accelerated spending. Overall IT services will grow by 7.2% from 2021. Midmarket firms are increasing IT spending for cloud optimization, application modernization and migration, and IT modernization. In addition, there is an increased demand for container deployment, microservices, open-source, API management, hybrid cloud workload management, and security and compliance management.

Increasing profitability, driving innovation, and improving the supply chain are the top three business challenges being addressed by midmarket firms. Within 85% of firms, IT is seen as a source of innovation, and 79% expect IT to deliver faster business outcomes. Over 20% of midmarket firms have internal teams dedicated to “finding ‘what’s next?’ technology-driven innovations,” and 40% “have IT budgets specifically for technology-driven innovation;” 11% report that they have embedded IT professionals within business units, charged with finding innovative technology solutions to achieve business objectives.

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SD-WAN adoption likely to increase by 145 percent within US SMB and Midmarket firms

SMBs are increasingly becoming aware of SD-WAN and its advantages. SD-WAN adoption is likely to grow by 145% within the US SMB market within a year. Techaisle survey data shows that today, only 10% of SMBs are currently using SD-WAN solutions, but 25% are planning adoption. Networks are a clear pain point for SMBs as they embark on digital transformation to align with the emerging requirements of the post-pandemic world. Networks consume scarce IT resources, and they are the critical link providing the connectivity that unlocks all other digital opportunities and potential. Techaisle’s survey data shows that 47% of SMB IT time is allocated to networking-related issues. Nearly 90% of SMBs believe that proactive, consistent network management to deliver ideal performance is important.

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Hybrid work is challenging the SMBs

Techaisle’s SMB and Midmarket Hybrid Work Adoption Trends survey indicates that 41% of SMBs plan a phased approach to return to the office, up from 22% in 2021. 20% of employees will likely work from home, in sharp contrast to 58% in 2021, similar to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 when 29% of small business (1-99) employees, 9% of employees within midmarket firms (100-999), and 7% within upper-midmarket firms (1000-4999), who worked from home. Techaisle survey also shows that 42% of employees want to work 3-4 days per week from home.

Security, remote IT support, and unreliable networks continue to be significant technology challenges in managing remote workers. Remote IT support is an especially acute inhibitor for 46% of small businesses. On the people-side of the hybrid work equation, work-life conflict, maintaining team cohesiveness, and lack of training/career implications are dominant challenges. As a result, only 11% have a hybrid first mindset, but 37% believe they have mature remote work practices.

Team collaboration solutions, office collaboration tools (conference room devices), and remote worker collaboration devices (headsets, video cameras, etc.) are the top three priorities for 45% to 58% of SMBs. PC upgrades and refreshes to enable a hybrid workforce are the fourth top priority for 39% of SMBs.

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