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59% of SMBs to increase tech budgets this year

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As technology becomes indispensable for small and midsize businesses, 59% of those companies plan to increase their tech budgets this year, according to a new report from technology provider Cbeyond Inc. Thirty-one percent of respondents planned to keep technology budgets flat, while 11% planned decreases, the study found. The report, “Summer 2013 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot,” was based on an online survey of 711 senior executives at businesses with fewer than 250 employees conducted in May by market research company StrateSci. “Technology services are becoming more critical to SMBs,” said Paul Carmody, CMO at Cbeyond, which commissioned the study—its second semiannual tech study—to get a better sense of which technology services its customers are interested in and to share findings with its SMB audience. “We know most of these businesses do not have IT departments. They are not IT experts, and there is a need for someone to do tech work for them,” Carmody said. When asked which tech services were critical to running their businesses, respondents cited network access (95%); desktop/laptop management (92%); mobile services (93%); and applications (83%). Also, 52% said their businesses could not survive without network access; 42% said they could not survive without desktop/laptop management; and 34% said they could not survive without mobile services. “Integrating mobile devices with telecommunications systems is critical for SMBs,” Carmody said. “Another aspect is that businesses really care a lot about remote connectivity and mobile communications.” The survey found that 57% of respondents said it was very important for them to have the technical ability to work remotely on a regular basis; 46% said it was very important for them to be able to work remotely while on vacation. When asked which communications services were critical to the growth of their businesses, respondents said traditional means, such as direct mail and fax (55%); digital media, such as chat, webinars and email (54%); social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (47%); and social mobile, such as Foursquare and Google Maps (22%). “We confirmed that small businesses need a technology ally,” Carmody said. “Over the last year, we have focused on being a full-fledged technology ally of small and medium businesses. Previously, we were more of a communications and connectivity provider.”
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