Nov 11 2008

Dashboard: November 2008

Dashboard: November 2008
Photo: Image Source/Jupiter Images

IT Managers See Value in Going Green

KRC Research did a telephone survey of IT decision-makers at 250 small businesses. Here’s a snapshot of what they found:

Technology is a cost-effective way to help my company be environmentally friendly. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Strongly agree 42%
Somewhat agree 40%
Somewhat disagree 10%
Strongly disagree 2%
Don’t know 6%

Which of the following is the greatest benefit gained by your company from employing more environmentally friendly practices?

Protecting the environment 44%
Reduced expenses 25%
Improved brand perceptions 8%
Increased productivity 8%
Retaining and attracting employees 3%
No benefits 8%
Don’t know 4%

Security: IT’s Top Priority

Security is the top priority of IT managers in 2008, followed by improving messaging and collaboration and reducing IT costs, according to research by the Radicati Group.

The study, which focuses on the attitudes of IT shops toward messaging and collaboration, is based on responses from 309,000 e-mail users across 108 companies.

Roughly one-third of the companies polled are SMBs, says Sarah Radicati, president of the company. She says 47 percent of the respondents checked off security as their top priority, while 42 percent selected messaging and collaboration, and 37 percent chose reducing IT costs.

“While all organizations deploy a variety of security solutions, concerns about protecting valuable network assets from all forms of malware attacks is still an important concern for most organizations,” says Radicati.

“Most companies recognize that if they don’t have the right security tools in place it will wind up costing more in the long run,” she adds.

Radicati says messaging and collaboration scored high because IT managers believe that the available messaging products are still complex to manage and require a great deal of ongoing attention and planning.

Reducing IT costs was the third priority, says Radicati, because most IT managers today are more concerned about containing costs than deploying new product features and functionality.

On the messaging front, 87 percent of respondents deploy onsite messaging systems as opposed to hosted e-mail, a sign that most companies still want their e-mail systems managed in-house.

“On a logical level, people understand that hosted e-mail can be secure, but it just tends to be a knee-jerk reaction,” she concludes.

SMBs Look to 802.11n

An ABI Research study found that while a majority of 500 SMBs surveyed are content with their 802.11g networks, 46 percent say they intend to deploy 802.11n, the latest wireless technology that promises bandwidth in excess of 100 megabits per second and up to three times the coverage.

The majority of the respondents plan to deploy 802.11n between now and June 2009. According to the study, the health of fourth-quarter sales at SMBs will determine whether this migration happens at the end of this year or next spring.

Stan Schatt, ABI’s research director for wireless connectivity, says business is attracted to the added bandwidth and extended range.

“Larger SMBs will use the additional bandwidth to run documents over industry-specific sales and inventory control applications,” says Schatt.

“And the greater range 802.11n offers is attractive for sales applications, since a mobile sales force is likely to roam when salespeople return to corporate headquarters,” he adds.

The survey also found that almost 50 percent of companies with one to four employees say they are not concerned about wireless security.

Schatt says most of the reason for the low score is ignorance, pointing out that nearly 68 percent of companies with 100 to 999 employees checked off wireless security as a concern. Roughly 62 percent of companies with five to 99 employees are also concerned about wireless security.

Dashboard: November 2008
Photo: Jupiterimages

VoIP Gets the Green Light

As the economy tightens, small and medium-size businesses are more apt to sign on for a Voice over IP project than a server upgrade, according to New York-based research group AMI-Partners.

“SMBs are looking for technology options that cut costs,” says Sanjeev Aggarwal, vice president of SMB infrastructure at AMI. “VoIP does not take a multiyear recovery. Companies can expect to recoup their costs within a year.”

Aggarwal says VoIP systems pay off for small businesses in at least three ways:

Reduced local and long distance calling. SMBs can expect more predictable fixed expenses with a VoIP system.

Increased mobility. With the technology extending to cell phones, workers don’t have to sit at their desks to receive calls, which lets them focus on customers.

Remote conferencing. Most VoIP systems support all forms of conferencing, including audio, web-based and video.

According to AMI, while IP-PBX systems had only a 5 percent penetration among small businesses in 2007, that number is expected to hit about 20 percent by 2012.

Penetration by medium-size businesses is expected to reach 60 percent by 2012, up from 33 percent in 2007. AMI defines small businesses as companies that have from one to 99 employees, while medium businesses have 100 to 999 employees.

Goin’ Mobile, 21st-Century Style

What percentage of your users work from home at least one day
a week?

58% Less than 5%
21% 5–10%
10% 11–15%
8% 26–50%
3% More than 50%

Source: CDW Poll of 578 BizTech readers

With data rate plans falling and more affordable products on the market, converged mobile devices, or CMDs, are growing in popularity among small and medium-size businesses, according to research group IDC.

IDC expects worldwide shipments of CMDs to grow among SMBs at a combined annual growth rate of 56 percent through 2012.

Timothy Doherty, an associate research analyst at IDC, says SMBs need to consider how CMDs, equipped with advanced applications, can help cut costs and improve the overall customer experience.

“Billing, sales lead tracking and field-force tracking can all be deployed on CMDs to offer a positive ROI, particularly with falling CMD prices,” says Doherty.

“Small business owners really like that they can offer their field workers remote access to back-end office applications without having to spend the money on a notebook computer,” he adds.

CMDs combine the features of both a mobile phone and a handheld device and should include the ability to download data to local storage, run applications, store user data and function as a personal information manager.

Among such devices are BlackBerrys, Nokia Eseries and Nseries devices and Windows Mobile units from business partners such as HP, Motorola and Samsung.