Analyst: Midmarket Firms Want More IT, But Face Budget Limits

(NOTE: This story was originally posted to earlier today, Sept. 19.)

Many mid-market information technology initiatives may be the same as those of larger enterprises, but since midmarket IT directors must deal with more limited resources, they need to spend their budgeted dollars wisely.

That was the message from Mike Cisek, a Gartner analyst who focuses on midmarket organizations, who outlined the state of midmarket IT for several hundred attendees at the opening session of Midsize Enterprise Summit West in Austin, Texas, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

He warned attendees that despite the temptation to invest in the newest tools, they need to watch what they spend.

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Using data he gathered from a similar conference The Channel Company hosted in May in Indianapolis, Cisek said staffing, security and spending will be the top three information technology challenges facing midmarket companies over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, he cited five IT trends driving the midmarket: adoption of emerging data center solutions, strategic and tactical use of cloud technologies, improved security, adoption of analytics to improve business and IT operations, and enabling a digital workplace.

"As much as you have a personal connection to some of these technologies and you can build it, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should," he said. "If it’s a commodity service, buy a commodity solution and don’t burden your team financially or from a resource perspective. That's not going to give you that business differentiation that you so desperately need."

Solution providers that serve the midmarket need to understand the limitations theset IT chiefs have with their resources, Cisek told CRN after his session.

"A lot of decisions [at the midmarket level] are really driven around how [they can] make that limited pool of resources [be] more efficient," he said. Solution providers that can "fill a gap and solve a problem and be an extension" of midmarket IT organizations will be successful, Cisek added.

"It's very much a partnership" between the midmarket company and the solution provider, he said.

Rich Byrnes, vice president of strategy and development at Global Technology Solutions Group (GTSG), based in Charlotte, N.C., agreed with what Cisek had to say.

It's consistent with what GTSG – No. 500 on CRN's 2016 Solution Provider 500 -- is seeing, said Byrnes. Since GTSG focuses more specifically on the data center and IT optimizations, especially in midmarket companies, he spoke specifically about those areas of service.

"The problems that people are trying to solve, [such as] who is best equipped to deliver that service [and] what do I do with my company-managed applications … continue to increase," Byrnes told CRN.