Small and medium-sized businesses aren't paying enough attention to emerging technology trends that could help them improve efficiency, better serve customers or launch innovative new products.
That's one of the conclusions of the 2019 State of IT report from technology and marketing vendor Spiceworks. Its survey of 700 business technology buyers in North America and Europe found that large enterprises were up to 10 times more likely to adopt emerging technologies than SMBs.
More specifically, only 21 percent of companies with fewer than 100 employees had deployed IoT technology, compared to 40 percent of those with more than 5,000 employees. And only 3 percent of SMBs were using artificial intelligence, compared to 31 percent of large enterprises.
Data from Spiceworks 2019 State of IT report
Part of the reason for this disparity is likely that larger organizations have more resources available for researching these new technologies. However, some of the technologies, particularly IT automation, gigabit Wi-Fi, hyperconverged infrastructure and others, offer the potential for cost savings and efficiency gains. Adopting these solutions may result in a positive return on investment (ROI) for small business owners and managers that are willing to take the plunge.
In addition, many of these technologies could help companies develop innovative new products or better serve customers. The report authors noted, "With business technology rapidly advancing, companies stand to gain a competitive edge if they can stay current on IT trends that drive efficiencies."
The adoption of technology also varied by industry. For example, financial services companies were particularly likely to adopt IT automation, with 43 percent of firms surveyed having already deployed the technology, while another 22 percent planned to do so. A large number of healthcare organizations — 42 percent — had deployed Internet of Things (IoT) technology, and 39 percent of manufacturers had done so as well. Not surprisingly, IT services firms were among the most likely to have adopted new technologies, and government agencies were among the least likely.
The survey also found a disparity between SMBs and enterprises when it came to emerging security technology. However, the differences were not quite as pronounced, and in some cases, the SMBs were actually ahead. For example, 49 percent of SMBs had deployed an anti-ransomware solution, compared to 48 percent of large enterprises. Also, 41 percent of SMBs had employee security training tools, compared to 50 percent of large enterprises.
On the other hand, SMBs were farther behind with deployments of user behavior analytics, cloud workload protection, IoT security, browser isolation, AI-powered security solutions and deception technology. This is concerning because cyberattackers are increasingly targeting small businesses, which they may rightly see as an easier target than a large organization.
The report concluded, "As we examine the blueprints that reveal future tech plans in 2019, it’s become apparent that small businesses are slower to adopt emerging tech than their larger counterparts." SMBs that want to get and stay ahead of the competition may want to pay more attention to some of these emerging trends and consider whether adoption could help them become more successful.