How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Maximize IT Budgets

SMB leaders win when their IT organizations have the agility to pivot and innovate quickly. Learn the top tech spending priorities for SMB leaders and how these investments support business growth.

ARTICLE | 4m read
August 24, 2021

Change is a constant in the business world, and the best small- and medium-sized businesses have always set themselves apart by their ability to adapt quickly. However, after a year of unprecedented disruption, the agility of SMB leaders is being severely tested by new challenges like shifting most employees to remote work and guarding against new cybersecurity threats. Tackling these demands while continuing IT modernization projects is not easy—especially when budgets are getting tighter and compliance requirements stricter.

As an SMB leader, it’s critical you make smart choices about your IT resource allocation to ensure success in our new world of work. When Pulse and Citrix surveyed SMB leaders about their IT spending, their top priorities were to improve security around data and app access (26 percent), modernize IT (26 percent), and enable seamless remote work (17 percent). In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how these IT priorities support your growing business in adopting new ways of working to drive sustained success.

Why securing data and apps should be the top priority for SMB IT teams

What’s the true cost of suffering a ransomware attack? The average payout (and an estimated 68 percent of companies end up paying) is often more than $300,000. While that amount is easily enough to make SMB leaders worry, the actual cost of ransomware goes beyond paying off bad actors. Experienced IT pros know these attacks also cause lengthy downtime that disrupts services and employee productivity, which can cost nearly 50 times more than the actual ransom demanded. In addition, other ransomware costs typically include data loss, legal expenses, and lasting damage to a company’s reputation.

These staggering costs make it little surprise 70 percent of SMB IT teams aim to improve security and compliance this year. One of the most important places to focus is access security. By embracing zero trust and single sign-on solutions, you can protect your distributed workforce from the latest threats and equip IT teams with more visibility over who accesses which resources. And because protecting data and intellectual property while maintaining service is key to the success of your growing business, be sure you have a business continuity plan in place to maintain mission-critical functionality after a breach.

How accelerating IT modernization drives SMB growth

SMB leaders understand the importance of accelerating modernization with lean, cost-effective IT solutions. The more you can modernize your IT technology and processes, the more your growing business will be able to pivot and innovate quickly. SaaS and cloud-based solutions are ideal for optimizing IT at a reasonable cost because they’re easier to deploy, scale seamlessly, and charge based on what you actually use.

THE ADVANTAGE THAT THE CLOUD GIVES TO SMALLER COMPANIES IS YOU CAN LEVERAGE ALL OF THAT EXPERTISE AND BE A VERY SMALL COMPANY AND HAVE THE SAME TYPE OF SOPHISTICATED ENTERPRISE TOOLS THAT JUST WEREN'T AVAILABLE 20 YEARS AGO.

Melissa McCoy
CTO
Kaizen Approach  

So what kind of SaaS and cloud solutions should you target? After strengthening security, the next most important priorities for SMB IT leaders are enhancing employee productivity and increasing scalability. Another popular option for smaller IT teams are solutions like security and performance analytics that enhance visibility and control over IT processes, as these solutions expedite troubleshooting and reduce disruption. Above all, prioritize technology that will scale with you as you grow so you can reap benefits today and into the future.

Why remote work strategy is key to SMB success

Finally, be sure your SMB IT strategy will make remote and flexible work as seamless as possible. 70 percent of US workers now believe the home office has come to rival the work office in terms of technological capabilities, which helps explain why 41 percent of SMB IT leaders want to improve the remote work experience at their companies. And with Gartner reporting that 60 percent of workers feel more productive in a hybrid work model, empowering your employees to choose where they work benefits both them and your business.

Enabling remote work or hybrid work options is also key for attracting top talent to the business. 54 percent of workers would change jobs in order to have the choice of working remotely, and an increasing number of applicants won’t even consider jobs that don’t have hybrid work options. Being open to fully remote workers also widens your options for recruiting because geographic locality doesn’t matter. Having a strong flexible work culture also enables you to get flexible about how you use your physical office space, either by downsizing the space you lease or renting out flexible space when it’s not in use.

SMB growth will be enabled by smart IT strategy

Even in the face of new security and business challenges, the future is bright for SMB leaders whose IT strategy can maximize their agility. As you design your IT budgets to prioritize security, modernization, and flexible work, weigh the risks and rewards of each solution to choose technology that will scale with your growth and pay dividends down the line.

Learn more about what SMB IT leaders are saying about their technology priorities for 2021.

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