As a new year approaches, organizations are planning their technology strategies for 2019. Technology plays a critical role in every aspect of doing business, from powering employee productivity to offering the best customer experience possible. What technologies should mid-size businesses in particular be considering to align with their larger goals and objectives? The trends are suggesting that 2019 will be a big year for investment, and that mid-size firms will be focusing on their infrastructure, essential services and low-risk strategies for implementing experimental technologies. Here are five trends to keep in mind for the year ahead.
2019 Is Poised to Be a Year of IT Investments
The foundational idea that IT leaders and business owners of mid-size companies need to consider is that 2019 is a year for investments. According to the Spiceworks 2019 State of IT survey, budgets across the board are holding steady or rising.
57% of mid-size businesses see their IT spending on par with last year, and 28% will be increasing their IT budgets to meet a variety of fast-changing needs. With more pressure on organizations than ever before, to power technology-driven customer experiences and speed up productivity, IT departments are being fueled with the resources they need to deliver results across the company. Top considerations that mid-size companies’ IT departments are looking at, according to Spiceworks, include the following:
- 72% of mid-size businesses cite the need to update outdated infrastructure
- 62% see an increased priority on IT projects
- 46% are wrestling with increased cybersecurity concerns
- 51% are working to meet the needs of employee growth
- 39% cite the need to keep up with changing regulations, such as GDPR
Infrastructure Investments and Core Services Are In the Spotlight
Trends reports and predictions for the coming year tend to go after clicks and splashy predictions with the latest emerging trends. These certainly have a place in your planning, whether you’re adopting newer-but-tested technologies or trying to gain an edge on the market. However, for mid-size companies, 2019 looks like a year where infrastructure and core services are front and center.
For mid-size businesses, 33% of budgets are going to hardware, 27% to software, 23% to cloud-based services, and 12% to hosted services. Nearly half of hardware budgets will focus on core areas such as laptops, desktops and servers. The focus here is for mid-size enterprises to take a step back and ask what their teams and IT departments need to deliver at the highest levels of expectations that they’re seeing from customers today.
Across categories, you can expect to see organizations prioritizing services, purchases and partnerships with trusted brands. As the pace of innovation continues, busy IT departments rely on strong products, warranties and service agreements that keep things moving — without putting more work on the desks of their already-busy teams. Many mid-size IT leaders have also learned that investment years can run in cycles, so the goal will be long-lasting solutions that can scale and meet the needs companies expect to have over the next 18 months to five years.
Cybersecurity and Disaster Recovery as a Service Are Hot
At the same time, cybersecurity continues to be a significant concern for business leaders — and the investments that companies make in the year ahead will reflect that. The latest cybersecurity statistics are sobering. According to CSO Online, organizations of every level are dealing with familiar threats like ransomware. 2019 is poised to bring a number of emerging threats:
- Cryptomining, or Cryptojacking, where attack codes siphon off CPU power from servers, computers and mobile devices to covertly mine for currency — by early 2018, this represented up to 90% of code execution attacks.
- Email continues to be a threat, with 90% of malware delivered through that medium and attacks becoming more sophisticated by the day.
- Fileless attacks are delivered and exploit software already on your computer or server to launch the attack.
For mid-size enterprises, it’s not practical to have a full-time security expert on staff in most cases, and always relying on outside experts in “clean-up mode” after a breach quickly becomes expensive. Instead, companies are increasingly looking toward solutions such as managed cybersecurity services and Disaster-Recovery-as-A-Service. By employing cutting-edge supported solutions, organizations are more effectively preventing, detecting and recovering from cyberthreats while minimizing the risk to customers and limiting downtime.
Unified Communications Technologies
Companies are continuing to find ways to improve their employee productivity and ability to collaborate. Gartner predicts that Unified Communications Technologies will see significant investments this year from mid-size organizations. They note: “Unified communications as a service (UCaaS), or Cloud UC, are services that offer all communications for the company, including instant messaging, unified messaging, meeting solutions, collaboration and mobility. Given the limited IT resources and skill sets, Cloud UC can be a good fit for smaller enterprises. The current market offers a variety of providers, and the enterprise will benefit from a faster pace of innovation than the enterprise might otherwise be able to support.”
IT leaders will be evaluating solutions that enable them to meet the needs of remote teams, workers on the go, and easy roll-out to multiple locations as businesses grow and expand. This year’s focus will be on identifying plans and providers that can support video, audio and text collaboration, and be flexible enough to meet companies’ needs as they work to achieve better business outcomes.
SaaS Reduces the Risk for Newer Technologies
Every year, emergent trends capture the interest of different stakeholders within organizations — and IT departments have to work to find the best way to deploy technologies. In many cases, hefty upfront investments that don’t have an immediate business return can strain budgets and leave IT departments short on the resources.
As Deloitte notes, “Thanks to cloud-based flexible consumption models, companies no longer need to shoulder the risk and cost of buying complex technologies and acquiring scarce expertise. Instead, they can leverage the investments and expertise of the world’s biggest technology companies and savviest start-ups. Nowhere does this trend appear to be more apparent than in the area of artificial intelligence, where large software companies are integrating AI capabilities into cloud-based enterprise software and bringing them to the mass market.”
For mid-size firms, the ability to build on the work done by SaaS providers will enable strategic experimentation by lowering the risks and the costs associated with the technology. Machine learning and AI that can power faster workflows, deliver deeper insights or offer new products or services to customers will be priority areas for investment.
With the right focus and investments, 2019 will be a significant year of growth, innovation and change for mid-size enterprises. Whether you’re looking to scale the impact of the investments you’ve already made or are seeking approaches to reach strategic new audiences, technology can help. Following the trends this year means taking a hard look at infrastructure and looking for smart ways to invest in emerging technologies while reducing the risk. The year ahead promises IT departments and business leaders the opportunity to lay the foundation for long-term growth.