A clearer picture of the midmarket IT landscape is emerging thanks to a recent study of IT leaders we conducted at our Midsize Enterprise Summits. Some of the findings are eye-opening, while others further validate the long-term trends shaping this market.
Each year, more than 400 CIOs and senior IT leaders gather at The Channel Co.'s Midsize Enterprise Summit East and West conferences. We survey a representative sample of these midmarket leaders, providing a "State of the Midmarket" with insight into the top business and technology trends impacting them today.
Of the more than 200 executives surveyed, staffing, security and budgets emerged as the top three IT challenges they said are facing their organizations. It is an eye-opening finding in that many observers expected cloud or analytics to top the charts, given the media and marketing attention paid to those topics. But with all of the cyberattacks and data breaches in the news, business executives have turned to IT leaders to make security a priority. Security and staffing were neck and neck for the top two challenges, followed by budgets, which is always in the top five. However, the grouping of those three has some observers calling into question just how IT leaders are going to fund initiatives to secure their company's data and information while defending against attacks. Our MES Advisory Board members say they are under increasing pressure to channel more money into security initiatives while trying to balance all of the other IT projects that need money and resources.
Survey respondents also revealed their priorities in and around their data centers and networks. Over the next several weeks, we will disclose those findings, which shed light on storage, cloud, hyper-convergence and many other tech projects.
In addition to staffing, security and budgets, CIOs said their top challenges were a mix of technology and business issues that include project prioritization, disaster recovery, BI/analytics and supporting legacy systems. Given the myriad challenges facing IT leaders, 2016 is going to be a difficult year—one characterized by working with business leaders to properly fund and prioritize projects. There is little doubt that the IT department, whether centralized or not, does not have the proper staffing or budget to meet all its needs or respond to the demands. On the surface, the data shows that CEOs and presidents of midmarket firms are going to have to step in and transition their organizations to digital businesses and bridge business and IT departments.
Those topics will certainly be a big part of the upcoming MES conferences in 2016, where IT leaders will gather to discuss with peers, tech suppliers and solution integrators the top challenges at hand. We will also be doing deeper research on-site to determine how those issues are changing over time.
When we reviewed this data with our key MES Advisory Board members, many agreed they lacked the resources to meet all the challenges and demands facing them. Yet, they all said how critical partnerships are becoming for them to address all the technology and business solutions they need to provide. One thing they all agree on is how critical technology is to the future of their businesses.
That means IT integrators and vendor partners have a big opportunity in the coming year or two in the midmarket. But midmarket IT leaders also said they are relying on peers more than ever before to help them quickly sort through tech-based solutions to their problem. Developing strong networks, therefore, will be more important than ever before.
Look for more insight on the midmarket to come from our MES CIO survey.