By SSD Technology Partners|   

It’s March 6, 2017, as a business owner, president or CEO what is the one wish that your executive team could focus on to increase their effectiveness? Now look down and see if it’s one of the below SMB Top 3?

The 2017 study examines 15 areas of technology, 20 IT challenges and 20 business issues. There are some major changes when compared with the 2016 SMB report.

The top three SMB business issues for 2017 are the same as in 2016, but the order has changed. They are:

  • Improving workforce productivity (second in 2016)

  • Attracting and retaining new customers (third in 2016)

  • Improving quality of products and processes (first in 2016)

Rounding out the top five are “improving effectiveness of sales and marketing” and “managing inventory effectively.” Collectively, the top five business issues support number six on the list – increasing profitability – as well as the need to improve operational efficiency and outcomes.

Cloud computing is still the biggest IT priority, but collaboration jumped from fourth in 2016 to second in 2017. Not coincidentally, the right collaboration tools can directly impact the top three business issues mentioned previously – improving productivity, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining business processes.

After mobility solutions (third) and security solutions for cloud and mobile (fourth), digitization enters the top 10 as the fifth highest IT priority for 2017. While SMBs started exploring true digitization in 2016, the increased emphasis in 2017 indicates that more SMBs are recognizing the value of digitization as a competitive differentiator.

At the bottom of the IT priorities list you’ll find the Internet of Things, business analytics and intelligence, virtualization, and converged infrastructure. This would suggest that more SMBs are considering new data center models and looking for ways to leverage the power of data from previously untapped sources.

Budgetary constraints, mobile security/enabling the mobile workforce, and excessive data growth will continue to be major IT challenges for SMBs in 2017. However, the maintenance of existing IT infrastructure jumped from fifth place in 2016 to second in 2017. This would explain why virtualization and converged infrastructure are on the radar of smaller organizations, and why managed services ranked No. 6 on the IT priorities list.

SSD defines productivity, the top business issue in this year’s report, as “work, uninterrupted.” Our managed services solution, Total IT Management, is designed to help SMBs tackle urgent business issues, as well as major IT priorities and challenges, with productivity and efficiency in mind. That means focusing on long-term solutions with predictable costs as opposed to temporary fixes that add unsustainable cost and complexity.

Please look into a peer-to-peer mastermind group in your city and invest in yourself. It will be one of the more important business decisions you make for you, your family, your employees and your customers in 2017. Ed Stillman, Austin Texas