SMB Tech Survey Finds Costs, Productivity and Security Top Concerns

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It is always refreshing to see large companies field a survey to learn more about top concerns of small to medium size businesses (SMBs). Most recently, HP issued one to more than 750 business managers and IT decision makers to truly understand what SMBs were looking for in the next generation of business technology. Despite the fact small businesses account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales and 66 percent of all new jobs since the 1970s[1], it sometimes feels like tech-giants are only focused on the consumer, and can be out of touch with SMBs. This being said, some companies, like HP, continue to showcase their commitment to SMB users, which is encouraging for future new product development.

The recent survey highlighted three things important to SMBs – managing costs, improving productivity and of course, security. In many cases, SMBs simply don’t have the staffing, flexibility or cash flow to effectively manage their IT solutions, which is why the importance of managing costs shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s important for SMBs to deploy affordable products and services that provide flexibility and reliability at a reasonable cost. For example, take HP’s new LaserJet Pro printers and MFPs, which are designed to deliver business ready capabilities at an affordable price, with the fastest first page out, fastest two-sided printing, and lowest energy consumption in their class.[2],[3] These devices help save both time and money – two of SMBs’ favorite things.

Another pain point for SMBs has always been, and will always be, productivity. This is a hot topic for me (maybe you joined us for our recent Twitter chat?), because it’s so important in keeping a company running smoothly.

By eliminating some of the inconveniences in the workflow process, and thus increasing overall productivity, companies are able to run a tighter ship and turn a quicker profit. An easy way to do this is through cloud computing, which makes it easier to store, share, and access documents from multiple devices and locations. A recent study by Exact and Pb7 Research found small businesses that adopted cloud computing doubled their profits and saw a 25 percent increase in revenue.[4] Whether it’s storing and accessing your documents in the cloud, printing documents remotely using connected devices like HP’s new Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477, or simply emphasizing the importance of a mobile, connected workforce, businesses should be focused on how to make daily tasks more efficient (and affordable) by leveraging smart technologies and workflow processes.

Perhaps the least surprising, yet most important point of emphasis supported by HP’s survey results is the importance of security for the SMB. Despite the fact that security rated as a top priority for SMB IT decision makers, the survey found only 23 percent of small businesses are planning to invest in security solutions within the next two years, meaning it’s crucial that some of these features are built directly into the technology itself.

There’ve been various recent articles detailing that hackers aren’t just attacking networks to steal credit cards or personal information, but also sending un-authorized emails and other communications to users, including authorizations for wire transfers. In a rapidly changing environment, SMBs need to have the latest and most adaptable security solutions. Whether you’re printing classified documents for a presentation, or sharing files digitally via your local network, it’s crucial to have a set of solutions designed to protect your business.

A good example is HP’s new Pro Series of PC’s, which come with built in solutions (HP BIOSphere and HP Client Security) that offer a wide range of support and protection, allowing peace of mind when sharing confidential documents. But it doesn’t have to stop there, other features like PIN Printing or HP JetAdvantage Private Print on the new lineup of HP LaserJet printers enable you to secure your work environment from the minute a document enters your network.

We’ve seen a lot of changes in the SMB world in the last few years and it’s good to see companies taking note and listening to their customers. In today’s technology landscape, it’s imperative that companies set themselves up for success and avoid falling behind their competitors. Each SMB is different, but the ability to effectively manage costs, monitor workflow productivity and proactively address security needs will help any company thrive. Since 1990 SMBs have created 8 million new jobs, while big businesses have eliminated 4 million[5] – HP understands this, which is just another reason I’m excited about their new lineup of SMB products, and their continued commitment to this market segment.


 

[1] US Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-trends-impact

[2] Based on HP internal testing of top three leading competitors’ first page out and duplex print speed completed 8/2015. Subject to device settings. Actual results may vary. For details see hp.com/go/ljclaims.

[3] Based on HP testing using the ENERGY STAR® program’s Typical Electricity Consumption (TEC) method or as reported in energystar.gov of top three leading competitors as of 8/2015. Actual results may vary. For details see hp.com/go/ljclaims.

[4] http://www.techrepublic.com/article/do-small-businesses-make-more-money-with-the-cloud-new-study-says-yes/

[5] US Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-trends-impact

 

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook

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