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Analyst Answers Five Key Questions on IT Leaders’ Minds
For IT leaders around the globe, the need for digitalization has never been clearer. The past two years have put us on a new path where change is constant – bringing with it new concerns. But at the same time, every one of those challenges brings with it a deciding moment that allows us to reach new levels of certainty and business opportunity.
But digital transformation is often easier said than done.
IDC's recent Worldwide Small and Medium Business Survey of nearly 2,600 executives at companies with less than 1,000 employees unveiled some of the top challenges facing IT leaders today. Katie Evans, research director for worldwide small and medium business (SMB) research, dove in to examine some of their biggest concerns in the IDC Analyst Connection, sponsored by SAP: Talking Tech: Answers to Five Questions Keeping IT Professionals Up at Night
For starters, getting executive leadership on board with digital transformation can be a challenge – even when they know it is the right moment for such a move. While 85% of SMBs consider digital transformation to be a top priority, just 26% have the digital strategies, processes, technologies, and talent in place to actually make it happen. This is perhaps not surprising when we learn that 71% of midmarket companies have no four or fewer full-time IT experts on staff, and 23% cite lack of IT staff as one of the largest challenges to meeting their business priorities.
It is critical, therefore, that IT leaders make the case for investing in the teams and technology they need to keep pace with ever-changing customer and market demands. The business world fluctuates on a dime and, without the right tools to quickly pivot, an SMB may find itself among the 20% that survived COVID-19, just to cease operations by 2025. Better to follow the lead of the 25% of digitally determined SMBs that grew revenue faster than less digitally determined SMBs during the pandemic by acting in the moment to provide their people with the tools they needed to work effectively and efficiently from anywhere.
But no discussion of digitalization is complete without addressing the cloud.
The benefit of scaling up and down in capacity as the moment requires and only paying for what you need is clear. But the initial migration from on-premise to cloud-based systems can be tricky – requiring time and financial investment, training, and patience on the part of employees. Yet, when we look again at the day-to-day of those small IT teams, the cloud presents a huge advantage by reducing maintenance and making it simpler than ever to process, house, and analyze data. And, while nearly 70% of companies with one to 499 employees are already using cloud technology, it is important to remember that businesses can make the move to the cloud at their own pace. Better to plan carefully and prioritize migration based on the highest benefit to your business in the moment.
The next thing keeping IT leaders – and all other executives – up at night is the changing workforce.
The labor market is tight and SMBs often don’t have the capacity to offer top salaries and the extra benefits that larger companies can afford. For many SMBs, technology is the key to doing more with less staff. Automation is the name of the game when it comes to freeing up time for your people to focus on the important work at hand. Plus, it reduces human error and makes the employee experience more satisfying to boot – helping keep your people happy right where they are. Take spend management, for example. Travel logistics, expenses, and processing invoices can feel like drudgery that gets in the way of the excitement of planning a big business trip, upgrading an office space, or working with a new supplier. With the right automation tools, you lift that burden while also improving the quality of spend data for finance and auditing teams and the speed at which they can verify every purchase and analyze spending trends overall. From productivity to accuracy to risk management and compliance, seizing the moment with automation is one of the top ways your SMB can run smarter.
Remote work is another critical component of today’s changing workforce. The pandemic brought with it a seismic rethinking of the time and energy we spent each day commuting to the office and how that time could be used more wisely. While connecting face-to-face with colleagues, partners, and customers will always have value, going to the office just for the sake of being there is no longer acceptable for many. In recognition of this new trend, 59% of SMBs listed mobile worker support, including remote access to network-based resources and cloud applications, as an employee experience and productivity technology priority for the coming year.
But the world of remote work also brings new security risks. When your people are connecting from coffee shops, airports, and anywhere else across personal and corporate devices, the risk of a breach skyrockets. The tools you choose to enable remote access must come from reputable providers with long-standing security credentials you can trust.
Digitalization, cloud technology, automation, and remote workforce enablement – these make a tall order for any IT team, much less a small one working to support your typical SMB. So how can IT leaders get the visibility they need with top company decision makers?
The answer is to seize the moment and make the case for an increased focus on technology today.
Work with leaders from every line of business to understand their needs and advise them on which technology offerings will best meet their requirements and budgets while also helping the business compete and grow.