IT leaders of midmarket organizations face a wide range of issues but funding, time and staff are the top three challenges preventing them from executing their IT vision.

Those are tops among a wide range of findings from the industry’s most definitive study of IT leaders at midsize firms. The study is conducted twice a year at the Midsize Enterprise Summit as part of a collaborative effort with Gartner’s SMB team. The latest findings, which were collected from attendees at the Midsize Enterprise Summit Spring conference in April 2017, continue to show that midmarket firms are struggling to meet their IT needs as senior leaders juggle all the funding needed to run their business from top to bottom.

The top five obstacles preventing CIOs from executing their IT vision also include management support and skills, which reflect the conversations that take place throughout the MES conferences. The issue of gaining management support is a recurring theme among midmarket IT leaders who want to be viewed as senior business leaders rather than just technologists or geeks. They are making progress as many midmarket organizations come to grips with the notion that to be successful they must become more digital across the business. You can find many articles on this subject including one by Deloitte which tackled the CIO role on impacting the business.

Today’s issues, tomorrow’s problems

During a briefing of the findings with the MES Board of Advisors, the biggest issues facing IT leaders in the next five years was contrasted with their current obstacles. The results were startling.

Security topped the list of challenges for the next five years, followed by finding and retaining talent. Number three was the issue of cloud vs. on-premise computing platforms followed by IoT. It didn’t come as much of a surprise that security, talent and cloud topped the list of challenges, but the rise of IoT as a game-changer caught many folks off-guard. MES attendees and board members have said they are grappling with a rise in interest from managers on how to deploy IoT solutions along with business leaders purchasing IoT solutions on their own to meet their objectives. This is creating issues around support, securing the devices that can be accessed from the internet and compliance.

A theme of resource management emerges from the list of 10 obstacles and long-term challenges, a theme of resource management emerges in terms of skills and staff to keep IT running and delivering innovative business solutions. Yet cloud, which has been around for several years, continues to be an issue when it comes to public vs. private and an emerging technology—this time, IoT.

The big (company) picture on midmarket challenges

From the perspective of CIOs who have served in leadership roles at enterprise companies, midmarket executives have it easy and should be able to overcome many of their challenges. Just imagine the complexity of deploying IoT at a Fortune 500 company vs. a 250-employee manufacturer in the Midwest.

Those IT leaders who have worked in Fortune 500 companies said midmarket firms are considerably more nimble, have better visibility into the business, and have far less bureaucracy to slow projects down. But, at the same time, they warn that funding, lack of staff and specialists, along with vendor influence are major challenges when it comes to IT success. So, neither side—the Fortune 500 CIO or midmarket IT leader—should be that envious of the other. Maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

However, given the lack of staff and resources, midmarket firms are far more dependent on IT partners—solution providers, consultants and tech suppliers—to meet their needs.

Bottom line is if they are going to provide the highest level of IT security for their firm, they cannot do it with what is on hand. A Fortune 500 company might be able to do so, but midmarket companies must turn to partners.

Those are but a mere peek into the key findings culled from the survey of more than 120 CIOs and IT leaders. We will be sharing more of these findings in the coming weeks. Subjects that will touched on in future newsletters include infrastructure, cloud and emerging technologies.

Please let me know your thoughts on the results by emailing me at

If you are interested in attending or participating in the MES conferences, you can find more information on MES Fall 2017.