No matter how the economic headlines in your region read these days, when it comes to technology spending among small businesses, a lot of industry experts agree that SMB IT spending is on the rise and will continue to increase over the next few years. If you listen to all the conflicting business news about the stock markets, unemployment or the strength of our financial institutions, this may seem counter intuitive.

However, if you break it down and take a close look at where the experts see SMBs investing their IT dollars, it’s easy to see how small businesses may be bucking the economic trends to continue making investments in critical solutions, as well as technologies that will enable them to enhance productivity.

First, let’s look at some data.

IDC projects that security technology spending by U.S. SMBs will show strong growth and exceed $5.6 billion by 2015. IDC also predicts that SMB spending on security products is expected to grow almost twice as fast as general IT spending.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a survey of SMBs conducted by CompTIA, a nonprofit advocacy group for the technology industry, which found that a third of the respondents expected to increase their IT budgets by 10 percent or more this year.

Spiceworks, the social network for IT professionals, noted in its State of SMB IT survey for the first half of 2012 that IT budgets grew 6 percent since the start of the year to an average of $152,000. That represents a 15 percent increase over the same time period last year. Spiceworks surveyed 1,498 IT professionals in 100 countries and commented that survey “results also show that SMBs are spending more on technology across the board”.

What technologies are driving this spending?

More and More Employees are Using Personal Technology in the Workplace

BYOD is making significant inroads throughout the business world. A CompTIA online survey of  500 business and IT professionals found that:

“84 percent of those surveyed use their smartphone for light work such as email or web browsing.” The survey also found that “Individuals using tablets have an even wider range of uses, including note-taking, giving presentations and using their tablet as a communications device in lieu of a phone.”

The Spiceworks survey revealed that 75 percent of SMBs currently manage and support the personal devices their employees bring to work, such as iPhones, iPads and Android phones. However, Spiceworks said that SMBs are split on BYOD, with 20 percent embracing the trend completely and 25 percent “claim it’s a headache.”

Clearly, as these devices become more broadly used for work, they need to be secured and managed with the same diligence as our legacy IT systems.

Malicious Attacks on Small Businesses

It’s not just the large enterprises that are getting hacked. SMBs also need to think about preventing system attacks and one of the ways to do that is to consider using a layered security approach to help ensure you’re protected across platforms and communications channels, such as email, web, etc. It’s not just about antivirus anymore. There needs to be increased vigilance around preventing network breaches.

In its report, IDC notes that:

“the six key security product areas—endpoint, messaging, network, web, identity and access management (IAM), and security and vulnerability management (SVM)—will all show strong growth throughout the forecast period.”

SMBs should be thinking about security protection holistically, understanding that there are solutions to help you do that.  SMBs also can leverage security solutions to improve business processes, ensure regulatory and industry compliance and enhance their competitive position.

Do you align security with your strategic business objectives? Whether you are expanding operations, adding new products or services, acquiring other companies, implementing a telecommuting policy, or creating a social media presence, network and system security is critical for success.

Cloud Spending

More and more, SMBs are considering cloud computing as part of their overall technology strategy. Just some of the advantages include potential IT cost savings, higher employee productivity and IT management flexibility. Spiceworks found that cloud services are now used by 48 percent of SMBs, an increase from 28 percent during the first half of last year. It cited web hosting, email hosting, backup, content filtering and application hosting as the top five cloud services now in use by SMBs

What do you think?

Tell us about your IT spending plans. Are you among the SMBs planning to grow your IT spending in security, mobile device management, cloud or elsewhere?

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