New Survey Reveals Top Business Issues, IT Priorities and Challenges for 2017

By SSD Technology Partners|   

It’s March 6, 2017, as a business owner, president or CEO what is the one wish that your executive team could focus on to increase their effectiveness? Now look down and see if it’s one of the below SMB Top 3?

The 2017 study examines 15 areas of technology, 20 IT challenges and 20 business issues. There are some major changes when compared with the 2016 SMB report.

The top three SMB business issues for 2017 are the same as in 2016, but the order has changed. They are:

  • Improving workforce productivity (second in 2016)

  • Attracting and retaining new customers (third in 2016)

  • Improving quality of products and processes (first in 2016)

Rounding out the top five are “improving effectiveness of sales and marketing” and “managing inventory effectively.” Collectively, the top five business issues support number six on the list – increasing profitability – as well as the need to improve operational efficiency and outcomes.

Cloud computing is still the biggest IT priority, but collaboration jumped from fourth in 2016 to second in 2017. Not coincidentally, the right collaboration tools can directly impact the top three business issues mentioned previously – improving productivity, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining business processes.

After mobility solutions (third) and security solutions for cloud and mobile (fourth), digitization enters the top 10 as the fifth highest IT priority for 2017. While SMBs started exploring true digitization in 2016, the increased emphasis in 2017 indicates that more SMBs are recognizing the value of digitization as a competitive differentiator.

At the bottom of the IT priorities list you’ll find the Internet of Things, business analytics and intelligence, virtualization, and converged infrastructure. This would suggest that more SMBs are considering new data center models and looking for ways to leverage the power of data from previously untapped sources.

Budgetary constraints, mobile security/enabling the mobile workforce, and excessive data growth will continue to be major IT challenges for SMBs in 2017. However, the maintenance of existing IT infrastructure jumped from fifth place in 2016 to second in 2017. This would explain why virtualization and converged infrastructure are on the radar of smaller organizations, and why managed services ranked No. 6 on the IT priorities list.

SSD defines productivity, the top business issue in this year’s report, as “work, uninterrupted.” Our managed services solution, Total IT Management, is designed to help SMBs tackle urgent business issues, as well as major IT priorities and challenges, with productivity and efficiency in mind. That means focusing on long-term solutions with predictable costs as opposed to temporary fixes that add unsustainable cost and complexity.

Please look into a peer-to-peer mastermind group in your city and invest in yourself. It will be one of the more important business decisions you make for you, your family, your employees and your customers in 2017. Ed Stillman, Austin Texas


Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?