Small Business IT Scores Middling Grades

The grades are in, and they’re not the type that proud parents stick on their refrigerators for the entire world to see. Responding to a new survey released today by Insight Enterprises, 47 percent of small businesses ranked the technologies that their organizations rely on for their day-to-day work. The result: they gave their IT infrastructures a middling, if unspectacular, C+.

Does Your Small Business IT Make the Grade?

While C+ is considered a passing grade, small businesses soon find out that average technologies fail to keep up with the pace of IT, according to the Insight Enterprises Intelligent Technology Index. You can read the study’s findings encapsulated in the company’s Ever-Evolving Tech and Your Growing Business whitepaper (free download; registration required). The firm polled 403 IT professionals, 197 of which support small businesses.

[Related: Small Business Case Study: Why Move to Cloud Computing?]

The survey, conducted with the aid of Market Intel Group, reveals that despite getting the job done, current small business IT systems are hampering growth. If it’s any comfort, larger enterprises don’t fare much better, said Brenda Hudson, vice president of inside sales at Insight Enterprises.

Small Business IT Scores Middling Grades

“Growing businesses aren’t alone in giving their current IT infrastructure a slightly less than first-rate grade,” Hudson told Small Business Computing. “In fact, this sentiment was expressed across the board. The overall average grade for all respondents, which also includes medium and large businesses, was a B-.”

Whether they manage a vast data center or a modest small business network, many IT administrators report that they are saddled with technologies that hold their organizations back. Hudson remarked that “regardless of company size, IT professionals know that 20-year-old core architecture and applications will limit scalability and adaptability to modern technologies.”

Old Technology Won’t Build New Business

Adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to business growth. Doggedly clinging to aging technology can cause small business owners to miss out on revenue-generating opportunities.

“If small business owners understand how they can best leverage and integrate new technology and software solutions, such as cloud computing, predictive analytics, big data, and dashboard applications, among a host of other emerging technologies and solutions, they can mitigate the risk of limited growth and create an environment where they use technology as a competitive business advantage,” said Hudson. Fortunately, some small business entrepreneurs are starting to get the message.

This year, 42 percent of small businesses plan to increase their IT budgets by 27 percent above what they spent in 2015. That rate outpacing the increases at midsized and large enterprises by 10 percentage points.

Sixty-nine percent of small businesses are devoting part of their IT budgets to newer and emerging technologies, including data visualization applications and dashboards (40 percent), virtualization (39 percent), and wearable devices (20 percent). Taking a very do-it-yourself approach to prototyping, another 13 percent said they plan to invest in 3D printers.

[Related: Small Business 3D Printers: A Beginner’s Guide]

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Adjusting Your Small Business IT Strategy

Newer, more adaptable technologies can help to turn things around, but before you think about adopting new technologies, it may be wise to address any of your company’s current IT shortcomings. “Our survey found that small business IT professionals believe that network infrastructure—specifically moving to the cloud—and hardware devices are the two main areas that need to improve in order for them to move faster,” said Hudson.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of resources where business owners can turn [Editorial note and shameless plug: Small Business Computing], including an IT marketplace that has grown more responsive to small companies struggling to modernize their technology for today’s competitive business landscape.

“Technology vendors have the resources and expertise to evaluate a small business’ current IT environment and then develop an IT strategy that makes sense for its particular business needs,” Hudson said. “In addition, vendors are increasingly moving beyond providing the nuts and bolts of IT infrastructure, devices, and software to help companies solve business challenges through technology innovation.”

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