IDC: Worldwide SMB Market Top 10 Predictions 2010

IDC SMB 2010 Predictions I attended IDC’s Worldwide SMB Market Top 10 Predictions 2010 conference call today.  The call was led by Raymond Boggs, Vice President, Small/Medium Business and Home Office Research, but included a long list of analysts from IDC’s Small Business team.

IDC predicts that while SMB IT spending will recover, the impact of the recession will linger, impacting spending.  The conference call provided insights into how SMB spending on IT is changing by company size, by geography, and by technology.

Here’s a summary of the top predictions as presented on the conference call.

  1. IT Spending Recovers, But Not Enough To Make Up For 2009 Decline:  IDC forecasts SMB IT spending will grow 3.7% over 2009 (decline in 2009 was 4.3%).  Total IT spending by SMB will reach  $509.6 billion in 2010.
  2. Developed Regions:  SMB spending recovery will be more modest in developed regions.
  3. Developing Regions:  IDC forecasts that we’ll see more dramatic SMB spending gains in developing regions, including CEMA at +9.9%, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) at +7.3%, and Latin America at +7.1%. 
  4. Mid-Sized Firms:  IDC says that IT spending growth in mid-sized firms will outpace spending in smaller firms. .
  5. IT Spending Categories:  IDC says all IT spending categories will benefit from the increased SMB spending in 2010.  IDC expects services, software, and PCs/peripherals will benefit most, with 3-4% gains.
  6. Workforce Productivity:  IDC expects growth in spending for productivity tools to support remote workers and mobile employees.
  7. Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service: IDC says spending for Cloud and SaaS will gain traction in 2010, especially among medium-sized businesses. .
  8. Social Media:   IDC predicts that the use of social media will rise as SMBs figure out how to use it to reach new customers and learn about new technology.
  9. Focus on Innovative Solutions with Near-Term Benefits:  IDC says SMBs will be looking for alternative approaches to solutions and productivity tools that can provide near term benefits.  Social computing, mobility, personal storage, advanced networks, Cloud computing and SaaS all can add new productivity capabilities to SMBs, but SMBs will be looking to implement those solutions that can provide quick benefits.
  10. IT Infrastructure:  IDC expects that SMBs will continue to focus on building infrastructure capabilities (storage, security, and network resources) in order to support initiatives.

I have a big place in my heart for SMBs as that is the market where I ‘cut my teeth’ in the early 80’s when I joined IBM as a S/34 Systems Engineer and worked later as a Sales Rep.  Back then there were many, many SMBs that I called on that did not even have a computer in house.  Getting some of them to install GLAPPR and BICSARSA applications was a major sales effort.  There’s no question that the market for selling and servicing SMB organizations has totally changed since the early 80’s!!

For more information:

  • You can listen access a replay of the conference call Worldwide SMB Predictions 2010
  • Watch the IDC website for the release of the document Worldwide SMB 2010 Top 10 Predictions: Challenging Economy Will Sharpen Technology Focus on Near-Term Productivity Gains
  • Check out the SMB IDC website “Solving the SMB Puzzle

Working Smarter: Building a Smarter Enterprise

A couple weeks ago, IBM and InformationWeek sponsored a webinar, Optimize Business Performance by Building a Smarter Enterprise, to explore the topic of how companies are improving business processes and workflows in order to become a smarter, more agile enterprise. 

You can view the video replay of the webinar.  You need to register first by going to Optimize Business Performance by Building a Smarter Enterprise

A featured speaker on the webinar was James Surowiecki, world-renowned business strategist and author of the best-selling book The Wisdom of Crowds.  Also on the call was Jon Iwata, Chief Marketing Officer at IBM.  Both of them spoke during the one hour videocast.

The way a company’s employees get their work done is a critical lever in optimizing business performance.  But we all know you can improve business performance just by working harder or spending more on resources.  You need to figure out how you can make your workforce work ‘smarter’.   The secret is to create a collaborative and connected business environment that empowers people, embraces change and ultimately increases productivity.

Some facts about the way we work:

  • The time we spend just looking for the right expertise and information to do our jobs adds up to two hours in a typical day
  • A typical organization loses 5.3 hours per employee per week due to inefficient processes impacting how they work
  • Two-thirds of people believe there are colleagues who can help them do their jobs better…but they don't know how to find them

To work smarter, we’ll need smarter organizations — enhancing and benefiting from their people’s expertise, enterprise and creativity, rather than inhibiting them.  Transforming the collaborative infrastructure and processes of our places of work will enable people to take advantage of the full scope of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent planet.  And the good news is that many organizations around the world are showing the way.  The rest of us need to pay attention to these innovative companies and learn from their case studies…then apply what we have learned to our own companies.

For more on the Smarter Work topic, check out IBM’s Smarter Work website here.

Yankee: Workforce of Tomorrow Webinar

I recently attended a Yankee Group webinar titled "The Workforce of Tomorrow".  

The webinar focused in on how work employee work activities and habits today are rapidly moving away from historical patterns.  Remote, work-at-home, and mobile work is becoming a prerequisite for workers.  Yankee says unfortunately that many companies have been slow to react to these changes, resulting in lower productivity and employees feeling isolated.  As companies have increasingly been reducing business travel I suspect this is adding fuel to the growing fire.

According to a Yankee Group survey, nearly three-quarters of workers believe allowing employees to work from home benefits the company.  In addition, the majority of workers indicate that the ability to work from home is the single most important thing their company could do to increase their productivity.   Employees are demanding flexibility, and the companies that fail to react to this trend will be at a severe competitive disadvantage in the war for talent.

The webinar focused in on these trends that will impact the workforce of tomorrow.  The speakers discussed employees’ technological, social and professional needs and how to keep them connected.    The webinar runs about an hour.  You can access the audio here (mp3) and a pdf version of the slides here  or you can check out the embedded slideshare version below.

I have been working out of my house for IBM in a suburb outside Chicago for about 16 years.  During that time my management has always been in New York.  There is no question in my mind that IBM has been the major benefactor over the last 16 years.  They’ve saved thousands of dollars on real-estate costs and I have been much more productive than I would have been in a normal office setting.  And I know I have given IBM many more hours of work here at home than I would have given in an IBM office.   But IBM is to be applauded in this case as I have always been given access to productivity software and collaboration tools.  I have in turn exploited those tools and therefore have been able to feel connected to my New York colleagues.

At the same time, I can also say that I have benefited from the flexibility of being a work at home dad.  I have been able to participate in many of my kid’s school and after school activities that I would never have been able to do in a normal office. 

I was a little disappointed in the webinar as I really thought Yankee might touch on how social networking and social computing was going to impact remote and mobile workers.  I think that would be an improvement for their next webinar.

A couple additional related resources from Yankee on this topic includes…

  • Silent Killer: How Mobile Workers Sabotage Profitability,” by Josh Holbrook
  • The Future of Work,” by Josh Holbrook

  • eWeek: 7 Things Needed for an Enterprise Social Network

    Consumers have adopted social networking as a way to stay connected with friends and share ideas, music, pictures, and videos.  The trend is now hot in the enterprise market.  eWeek recently had an article that discussed seven critical elements to effective enterprise social networks.  Here is my summary of that article.

    1. User Friendly Look.  One of the reasons Facebook has been popular is it has a simple clean look, much like what Google has (although the recent revamp of Facebook looks a little more cluttered!!!).  eWeek says Lotus Connections and Socialtext are two vendors employing this user friendly look and feel.
    2. Business-Specific Applications.  Enterprises users don't only want to communicate, but they seek to collaborate (via tools like blogs and wikis) in order to solve business problems. 
    3. Multiple Communication Systems.   Enterprise users want a variety of ways to communicate and share information, including messaging, bookmarks, chat rooms, discussion forums, blogs, micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter).
    4. Security.  Enterprise users require and expect a level of security above consumer sites. 
    5. Scalability.  Everything points to a huge growth in users of enterprise social networks and that will translate into a huge growth in the number of transactions those networks will need to handle.
    6. Interact with Legacy Software.   Enterprise social networks will need to integrate with existing software within the business.
    7. Video and Multimedia.  Future enterprise users will come to expect the ability to share and view all types of media, including videos, podcasts, and photos.

    This list covers some, but not all the elements needed for effective social network.  It focuses mainly on the social platform and misses the importance of the people and processes behind the social networks.  Without passionate people and community processes, a social network will limp along.  I don’t care how cool the social network technology platform is.

    For the full article, see eWeeks "7 Things Needed For An Enterprise Social Network"

    Verizon: 2009 Top 10 Tech Trends

    Verizon Business issued a press release back on December 10, 2008 with a list of 2009 trends.  The press release, Verizon Business Helps IT Leaders Set Sights for 2009, provides a list of 10 trends Verizon says will be hot during the difficult 2009 economic environment.

    You can read the press release for detail, but here is a summary of Verizon Business' list of 10 hot trends for 2009:

    1. Enterprise 2.0:  Web 2.0 is quickly evolving into Enterprise 2.0 as these rich capabilities are creating new business models for some companies and empowering new strategies for others.  Look for Enterprise 2.0 to help organizations take their game to the next level through enhanced collaboration, communications and sharing ideas.
    2. Work as Activity Versus Place:  Companies will continue to recognize the productivity-boosting benefits of enabling mobile teleworkers or at-home teleworkers.  Telework, including new high-definition virtual meetings, will create an increased focus on work as an activity versus a physical location.
    3. Doing More with Less:  Businesses and governments everywhere are looking for ways to do more with less.  In 2009, it's all about productivity.  Companies can choose which functions to keep in-house and which to hand off to a third party.
    4. Visual Communications:  Video will continue to play a starring role, as companies make the most of their IP connections to create a culture of collaboration. From the boardroom to the desktop to the laptop to the mobile phone, more collaboration will take place, as companies increasingly embrace the cost-savings, productivity and environmental benefits of virtual meetings versus business travel.
    5. Unified Communications Integrated Into Business Processes:  With UC now at the forefront of business communications strategies, companies are making decisions about voice telephony that will help them achieve greater collaboration and productivity.  What's next:  UC integrated into automated business processes, where human and machine intelligence commingle in an IP world to drive even greater business growth.
    6. Ready, Set Go IPv6:  IPv6 will be a necessity for companies to achieve mobility and scalability with increased efficiency and ultimately move their businesses forward.
    7. Getting SaaSy:  Buying computing resources a la carte will help companies control costs while attaining the security, performance, scalability and reliability required for the enterprise.    
    8. 360 Security:  Three hundred sixty-degree security, mandatory on any IT checklist, requires that the flow of data be protected in and out of the corporate network and through the extended enterprise of widespread and mobile customers, partners, suppliers and employees.
    9. Eco-Responsibility as Sound Business Strategy:  Companies will evaluate eco-responsibility along with their technology investments as part of an overall business strategy.   Corporate social responsibility is becoming increasingly important in how companies are viewed by their employees, customers and investors.
    10. Cutting Through the Compliance Clutter:  In 2009, expect more, not less, with IT in the hot seat for ensuring IT systems are fully compliant and all the right controls are in place.  "Smart" tools will allow an organization to quickly review whether its partners, customers and suppliers, which form an extended network, are complying with relevant standards and regulations, a critical consideration in today's increasingly connected world.

    Number 2 and 4 seems to be potential big trends as business travel is expected to be cut big time in 2009.   I am also interested in seeing how #5 develops this year.

    As this is from Verizon, of course it is slanted towards communications technology.  But that is okay as I think it is best to cast a wide net when trying to understand trends.  This list from Verizon can help us understand some  of the issues going on in mobile communications.  We can use this list to dive deeper into any of these trends identified above and make our own assessments.