Investing in technology to boost efficiency

A person pointing at a graph on a business desk.
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The COVID-19 pandemic drove a shift in organizations' mindsets, with businesses embracing technology more keenly than ever before. This trend continues as businesses are now looking to software and hardware solutions to achieve a wide range of goals, from cost savings to better team work to improved efficiency.

While grappling with the challenging economic conditions, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are continuing to actively invest in technology solutions. They are doing this to stay agile and competitive, to drive productivity, accelerate innovation and uncover new business opportunities – but also to simplify how they operate day-to-day.

Looking for better business outcomes

When the lockdowns started and businesses suddenly had to pivot to working from home, remote collaboration platforms such as Teams and Zoom took center stage. They completely changed the way we work. Having experienced this change, and the advantages that came with it, organizations are now seeking to adopt technology to transform other business areas, too – such as finance, marketing or human resources.

In addition, following the pandemic, budgets in many organizations are not as ringfenced as they were before. The technology budget is no longer the sole domain of the IT department. Instead, requirements for IT and technology arise in all business areas, as current buying trends show. And, similar to the rise of the collaboration platforms, teams across all departments and functions are looking for those tools that can make a real difference.

These solutions and applications don’t necessarily have to be complex: There are opportunities for improvement across almost every business area. For example, technology can automate labor-intensive and monotonous manual tasks such as documentation, expense reconciliation or diary management. Such tools are readily available online and can free up valuable time in resource-strapped teams.

At the other end of the spectrum, SMBs are starting to consider fully-fledged enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions such as SAP Business One. These solutions, with their ability to adapt depending on individual business requirements, are increasingly replacing more traditional SMB accounting platforms such as Sage.

Greg Jones

Vice president of business development EMEA, Kaseya.

Businesses are spending more on outsourcing

Along with investing in new technologies, SMBs are spending more on consulting fees as many of them engage managed service providers (MSPs) to help them define and achieve their digital transformation goals. They need expert support to customize and implement new solutions, as well as finding ways to make better use of their existing tools. Of the available features in any software solution, a large percentage tend to go unused, so for SMBs, understanding and utilizing all the capabilities of their existing solutions can greatly improve work processes.

Cloud infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service have been growing at 30-40 per cent every quarter and organizations are spending on the consulting and management fees that go hand in hand with this investment in technology. Today, almost a third of SMBs already outsource all or some of their IT; as the digitalization trend continues, this percentage is likely to grow.

Investment in security

With businesses more aware of the ever-changing cyber risks, cyber security is another area that is seeing growing investment from SMBs. Analysys Mason forecast that the global SMB market would spend 77 billion US dollars on security solutions in 2023.

A security breach can do considerable damage to a small company, and research published by Kaseya earlier this year revealed just how worried businesses are. Over half of the nearly 3,000 SMBs surveyed for the State of Ransomware Report said that a successful attack would seriously affect their organization – with some worrying that it could even be a fatal blow.

In line with this, four in 10 respondents said their organization is currently increasing their cybersecurity spending. Many SMBs are getting external support: One in four outsource their security to an MSP and one in six to a managed security service provider (MSSP). They are also investing in enhanced security services – including two-factor authentication, dark web monitoring, penetration testing and security awareness training. All these areas have seen growth in the past 12 months.

A growth opportunity for managed service providers

The current technology needs of small businesses translate into growth opportunities for MSPs. Managed service providers are hiring new staff and investing more in sales and marketing to attract new SMB clients – and importantly, they are tuning into their clients’ needs.

In addition, they, too, are harnessing technology to boost productivity, automating day-to-day tasks such as processing helpdesk tickets or onboarding new clients. Integration between their core tools has helped MSPs streamline operations and improve service delivery – an important success factor as the speed and accuracy with which a provider solves a client’s problem is a key differentiator in a competitive market.

The MSP industry has consistently experienced growth throughout the pandemic, solving the technology requirements of their small and medium-sized customers. Despite uncertain times, the outlook in this market remains positive: With the help of their MSP partners, SMBs can implement technology solutions where they make a tangible difference, prepare for challenges ahead and ultimately, strengthen their business.

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Greg Jones, vice president of business development EMEA, Kaseya.