CPD learning module and quiz: Discover the small business IT trends coming in 2022

  • 22 Nov 2021

Sponsored by

 

Research from Spiceworks Ziff Davies provides valuable insight into IT spending habits during 2021, and what technology will be in demand from small businesses during 2022.

Key insights include:

  • 54 per cent of small businesses expect their revenues to increase in 2022. Only 8 per cent expect revenues to decrease
  • IT budget growth acceleration: Most small businesses (45 per cent) plan to increase tech spending or keep budgets the same (39 per cent) year-on-year
  • Some 26 per cent of small firms are investing in cloud although hardware and software investments are still more common in this sector
  • Organisations will reinvigorate spending on futuristic tech: focus areas for small firms include Gigabit Wi-Fi networking, IT automation technology and the internet of things

After the difficulties of the last two years, small firms (those with fewer than 99 employees) are optimistic about their revenue prospects for 2022. While they are less optimistic than larger businesses, more than half (54 per cent) expect their revenue to increase, while 28 per cent believe it will remain the same. Just 8 per cent are forecasting a fall.

Factors driving IT spend

More than half (53 per cent) of the 1,000 businesses surveyed* say they expect their IT budget to grow in 2022, with 35 per cent anticipating this will remain the same as 2021. However, small businesses are less likely to do so, with 45 per cent saying budgets will grow and 39 per cent expecting no change.

The most prominent motivation for small firms is a need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructure, put forward by 42 per cent. A third (33 per cent) of small firms are motivated by security concerns, while 32 per cent are putting an increased priority on IT projects in the wake of the pandemic. Some 30 per cent say they are planning to increase spend as a result of higher business revenue, while 29 per cent attribute this to inflation.

Drilling down into the triggers for upgrading IT, the most common reason for small firms was existing equipment reaching the end of its life (59 per cent), reaching a point in an upgrade or refresh cycle (54 per cent) and the need to be able to accommodate additional growth (52 per cent).

What’s in demand

There is a notable shift in allocation of budget towards cloud-based services. Among all companies, this has increased from 22 per cent in 2020 to 26 per cent in 2022. Small businesses are just as keen to invest in this as their larger rivals, with 26 per cent planning on doing so in the next year. The most common investments from small firms in this area are around productivity (16 per cent), online backup or recovery, business support applications, and web hosting (all 10 per cent).

However, 31 per cent are still intending to invest in hardware as firms look to bring their infrastructure up to date. One in five (21 per cent) of small businesses intend to invest in new laptops, with 19 per cent spending on desktops. Other notable investments will be in servers (11 per cent), networking (8 per cent) and tablets and mobile devices (6 per cent). Buying from one place can be a good idea; Dell offers a wide range of laptops, PCs and servers.

Some 29 per cent will be spending on software, with the most common focus industry-specific applications (14 per cent), productivity software (13 per cent) and security software (12 per cent). Just 14 per cent of small firms are looking at managed services; significantly below the level of their larger counterparts.

Facing the future

Not surprisingly, Covid-19 put the brakes on plans by many businesses to explore the potential of more futuristic technology, with a greater focus on the immediate needs, such as enabling a remote workforce.

While small businesses are significantly less likely to look at emerging technology than larger organisations, there are signs that such projects may start to reappear in 2022. The most prominent area for this is the adoption of Gigabit Wi-Fi networking – wireless communication systems where data transfer speeds reach or exceed one gigabit – which is either already being used or expected to be in the next two years by 59 per cent of small firms. Having such an infrastructure will enable quicker uploads and downloads of information for small firms; something that will become increasingly important as uptake of cloud services spirals.

IT automation technology (58 per cent) to automate processes previously done manually is also an area of focus; along with the internet of things (40 per cent), which features the embedding of sensors in physical objects to allow devices to communicate with each other. A small manufacturer, for instance, might make use of this to keep track of items throughout the supply chain, and use this information to identify any inefficiencies.

Other emerging technologies include virtual desktop infrastructure (34 per cent), where desktop environments are hosted on a central server; 5G technology (32 per cent) offering significantly faster mobile connectivity; and artificial intelligence (23 per cent), the use of machines to perform relatively low-level tasks such as basic customer service communication, which could automate processes and generate efficiency savings for small businesses.

Less common aspirations feature virtual reality technology (15 per cent) – a computer generated environment viewed through a headset – and blockchain (14 per cent); decentralised technology that allows the secure recording of digital information.

Emerging security solutions are also targets for investment. Across all businesses surveyed, 76 per cent say they have already implemented or will be implementing employee security training tools in the next two years, with the same number focusing on anti-ransomware solutions. Some 68 per cent are looking at hardware-based authentication products, while 59 per cent are exploring breach detection and response tools and 57 per cent on zero-trust security solutions.

Exploring the different options available, and working out what your priority should be, can be difficult. It’s worth partnering with an IT consultancy which can advise you on this – Dell Technologies Advisers can offer dedicated advice for small firms – and remember too that the cheapest option may not always be the best.

Now complete the quiz below to earn your CPD certificate.

 

 

*Research conducted among 1,000 technology buyers in companies across North America and Europe

 

Related topics