Large and small businesses alike use different types of technology – communications services, IT products and IT services – to solve their business challenges. As business changes and new challenges arise, businesses turn to their trusted technology advisors for new solutions and services.
In partnership with CSG, MachNation surveyed over 800 businesses worldwide about their technology, communications and support needs. We wanted to understand the types of services and solutions that would best support business customers currently and in the future. These insights and many more are in our Business Services Global Survey 2014.
In this article, we discuss the top technologies in demand in the digital business future.
Cloud services and security-related services dominate the future technology demands of large enterprises and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). See figure 1.
Figure 1: Percentage businesses expressing interest in adopting digital technology in 2-3 years; all respondents, n= 823 [Source: Business Services Global Survey 2014, MachNation, 2014]
Large enterprise technology plans
64% and 63% of large enterprises plan to adopt cloud applications and cloud infrastructure, respectively, within 2-3 years. Cloud services change the way that large enterprises test, deploy and manage their technology environment. Private, public and hybrid cloud technologies provide large enterprises a more cost-effective way to deploy IT assets than traditional on-premises solutions.
60% and 55% of large enterprises plan to adopt additional network security and customer data security (e.g., PCI compliance solutions), respectively, within 2-3 years. Security topics in general remain important for large enterprises. Recent high-profile, public and private security breaches raise concerns as businesses strive to stay ahead of malicious attacks and minimize the financial and reputational impacts of data theft.
SME technology plans
SMEs (with <249 employees) have significant but more tempered technology needs than large enterprises. While SMEs’ technology demands generally lag those of large enterprises, there are interesting exceptions.
55% and 43% of SMEs plan to adopt additional network security and customer data security, respectively, within 2-3 years. SMEs are not immune from security breaches, although most do not have the resources or skills to effectively choose, implement and manage the most sophisticated on-premises security solutions. However, security remains the top technology need for SMEs.
38% and 36% of SMEs plan to adopt cloud applications and cloud infrastructure, respectively, within 2-3 years. Cloud services are the smart choice for SMEs, requiring minimal IT support, providing employee access from anywhere, and offering appropriate levels of security. In addition, cloud services scale as SMEs’ needs change.
So what should communications service providers (CSPs) do to offer businesses the future technologies they demand?
Recommendations for Communications Service Providers
Best practices for CSPs include continuing to bundle cloud services with core communications offerings. Cloud services provide value to business customers while increasing stickiness to the CSP. In addition, cloud services advance the CSP’s transition from communications-centric to technology-centric. The most attractive business cloud solutions include Unified Communications, web conferencing, device management, security, back-up/storage and various business applications.
In addition, CSPs should continue to offer business customers a range of security solutions, including mobile security offerings. Enterprises and SMEs give CSPs fairly high marks for reliability and security. CSPs should leverage these traits and continue to offer new types of cyber security and customer data security solutions. CSPs should highlight their security credentials when selling to large enterprise customers. CSPs should be more cautious when presenting their security credentials to SME customers, as SME decision-makers generally have little security knowledge and therefore are not motivated to purchase when barraged with technology jargon.
Finally, CSPs that have already introduced next generation digital business services – including telepresence, dynamic unified communications platforms and the Internet of things (IoT) – will see success sooner. All these next-generation technologies together are called the Internet of Everything (IoE). The IoE will help businesses lower overall operating and capital costs while driving innovation. For more information on the value of IoE to businesses, please see MachNation’s extensive research on this topic.
Businesses want more cloud and security services over the next 2-3 years to address their top business challenges – productivity and innovation – while also addressing the top technology challenges – security and managing employees’ devices. To support their business customers, CSPs must continue their transition from being enterprise communications-centric to technology-centric. Finally, CSPs must introduce the value of Unified Communications, video telepresence and IoT solutions to their business customers, bringing them to the next level with the next tier of digital business services.